In lieu of assigning a standard biography project for students, teachers will occasionally ask pupils to write obituaries for either a famous deceased person from history such as George Washington or a famous person who is still alive; some even assign obituaries for a fictional character from a book. For this exercise, students must gather information from different sources and then create an obituary that contains all the pertinent facts about a chosen subject in a concise manner.
- Skill level:
Carefully choose an interesting subject who fits the requirements of your assignment. For instance, if your project asks you to pick a famous character from the Civil War, select a person such as Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson, who will have a lot of sources of information from which to write your obituary. If you pick a subject who is too popular, such as Abraham Lincoln, other students may take out all the books at your school and local libraries, which will make it difficult to finish your project. On the other hand, if you pick a subject who is obscure, you may not be able to gather enough information about your subject to write a fitting obituary.
Research your prominent figure by going to the library or using websites that your teacher has deemed appropriate for this project. Most schools do not allow students to use websites such as Wikipedia that are known to use unverified sources for its information.
Take notes of the information that is pertinent to your school obituary project. Your obituary should include your subject's date of birth, place of birth, all important achievements and even controversies. The obituary should also include whether your subject was survived by children or a spouse. If your subject is a present day living person, your teacher may ask you to create an imaginary death for him.
Read over a number of obituaries of famous people in newspapers or magazines to understand how they are written.
Write up a rough draft of your obituary. Check that you have included all of the pertinent information.
Write the final draft of your obituary, run it through a spell checker and, if possible, have another person proofread your project. If your project is for a college or high school journalism class, verify that you have used proper AP style.
Cite your sources, if this is part of your assignment.
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