What is an Autobiography?

7 minute read

Are you fond of writing? Then, you might have considered writing an autobiography at some point in your writing journey. An autobiography is a firsthand account of the author’s own life that provides readers with an unparalleled degree of intimacy. Read the full blog to know how to write an autobiography, the difference between an autobiography and a biography, and look at some outstanding examples of autobiographies that everyone must read at least once in their lives.

What is an Autobiography?

An autobiography is a non-fiction account of a person’s life written from their own perspective by the subject. Autobiographies are a subgenre of biographies, however, unlike a standard biography, which is usually written by someone other than the subject, an autobiography is written by the subject himself/herself. Autobiographies are personal stories written by individuals about themselves. These can be true accounts of noteworthy, unique, or dramatic events. They might be tributes to famous, interesting or inspiring people in society. 

Autobiography: Definition and Examples | LiteraryTerms.net
Courtesy: Literary Terms

Autobiography vs. Biography vs. Memoir

Autobiographie, biographies and memoirs are frequently available in almost every library or bookshop we visit. As a result, the readers are always confused about the difference between each of them. However, we are here to inform you that they are not the same. 

Autobiography Biography Memoir 
An autobiography is an account of a person’s life written by that person or subject itselfA biography is an account of someone’s life written by someone elseA memoir is also an account of someone’s life but of during a specific time in the journey of his/her life. This means it only covers a part of the author’s life
It is a subjective account that is written in first-person narrationIt is an objective account which is written in third person narrationIt is generally written in first-person narration 
It is a primary source of informationIt is a secondary source of information It is a primary source of information
They are written in chronological order, like from birth to the present dayBiographies are also written in chronological orderMemoirs can be written chronologically but often move back and forth in time
Places greater emphasis on facts, history, emotions, events etc.The main objective is to bring out the historical or factual truthPlaces greater emphasis on emotional experience and interiority rather than facts
Courtesy: Literature Classes

What to Include in an Autobiography?

You are not alone in scratching your head, unsure of what to put in your autobiography. After all, knowing what to include and exclude from your life narrative is an important aspect of how to write an autobiography. Do you pay attention to every detail? Is it true that everyone just wants to read long stories? Isn’t it possible that your autobiography will be too long?

The Movie Trailer Method is an excellent approach to think about how to write an autobiography. Focus on what would make the cut for a movie trailer of your life when deciding what to include in your autobiography:

  • People with the most influence (like family, friends, mentors, coaches, etc.)
  • Important events (like your origin story, vacations, graduations, life turning points, life lessons)
  • Moments of emotion (When you were homeless, when you battled a life-threatening condition, or when you fell in love)
  • Suspense or drama? (Did you get accepted to Harvard? Was your first operation a success?)

How to Start Writing Your Autobiography?

It is crucial to consider the critical aspects of an autobiography while writing one since you want a story that is not only representative of your life, but also simple to read and engaging enough that the reader will not want to put the book down. So, what should you include on your list? Here is how you may start your autobiography:

Place Your Story Order

While it may be tempting to repeat a tale in the order in which you remember it, bouncing back and forth in time can be extremely confusing. It’s possible that your ideas may come out jumbled when you start pulling them out, but you must put them in the right chronological sequence. Try to keep it in order, whether you’re starting from childhood – which is the most common starting point – or having a more focused picture of a certain era of your adult life.

Speak in the First Person

People expect an autobiography to be written in the first person since it is about you. When discussing events, you might use ‘I,’ ‘Me,’ or ‘Mine,’ rather than she or he. If you’re sharing a story about a key person in your life, you’ll naturally refer to them as he or she.

Define Your Characters

Even if this is a non-fiction work, it is still important for the viewer to grasp how you fit into your family and who the people around you are. You’ll need to remember the events as well as bring your characters to life. Make sure to include essential facts about a character’s personality and how they contributed to your tale.

Getting the Facts Right

It’s critical to build your location in order to help the audience understand who shared your trip and how they influenced what occurred to you. Where were you while all of this was going on? From major information such as where you were born or raised to minor ones such as the mouth-watering and nostalgic aroma of the Sunday roast cooking in the kitchen as you were playing with your siblings.

The Little Elements

When discussing how to write an autobiography, it’s occasionally the tiny details that make work come alive. Telling spontaneous stories is very appropriate. Include them if they are part of your recollection and history. People aren’t simply interested in reading about important events, rather they want to learn about the individuals and what they did. Who they are, what makes them tick; and don’t be afraid to relate a tale about your background, even if you think it’s trivial. Include it if you believe it is relevant.

Famous Autobiographies to Read

Here is an exciting list of some of the best-written autobiographies written by famous writers from around the world: 

  1. The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin by Benjamin Franklin
  2. Long Walk to Freedom by Nelson Mandela
  3. The Story of My Experiments with Truth by Mahatma Gandhi
  4. The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank
  5. Chronicles, Vol 1 by Bob Dylan
  6. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
  7. Agatha Christie: An Autobiography by Agatha Christie
  8. Open: An Autobiography by Andre Agassi
  9. On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King
  10. A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway
Courtesy: Read Travel Become

Important Tips on Writing an Autobiography

Keep the following pro tips in mind now that you’re set and ready to write your draft copy:

  • Allow yourself to be vulnerable. The finest autobiographies are full of defects, weaknesses, quirks, and missteps. Allow your readers to see the genuine ‘you’.
  • Skip the sections that are boring. There’s no need to go into great detail about every meal, vehicle ride, or a tense trip to the supermarket. 
  • Keep your autobiography focused on the characters. 
  • Remember that this is YOUR tale to tell!
  • Be (or don’t be) nice to others. Keep in mind that there may be consequences or reactions if you write about people in your narrative.
  • Consider a theme to follow! Many autobiographies are divided into sections based on a common theme. Themes run throughout the autobiography, connecting and uplifting each section.
  • Create snippets for your tale (or vignette). Each vignette is a standalone tale with a beginning, middle, and conclusion. Each story builds on the previous one. Instead of informing the reader about the experience, each vignette should be presented in rich sensory language that shows the reader the experience. 
  • Pick a tone! Your narrative (like most stories) will most likely contain a range of emotions, but pick one and stay with it.
  • Engage the readers! Always consider how you might make each part, chapter, page, paragraph, and phrase more engaging. You want to speak the truth, but it’s up to you how you say it. Suspense, tension, and mystery should all be present. Allow drama to fester until it becomes unbearable. Don’t try to fix problems or relieve tension straight away.

What is the Appropriate Length for an Autobiography?

There are no hard and fast rules about how long an autobiography should be, but a good starting point is between 200 and 400 pages. This can help you get your book officially published or promote your self-published book by keeping it in line with what most people expect from novels in general.

How to Write a Short Autobiography?

A short autobiography is written in the same way as a large autobiography. You just leave out more information from the narrative. You reduced everything down to the bare necessities. Alternatively, you might pick a segment of your life, like in a memoir. This usually entails minimizing the number of characters in your book, lowering the number of events and experiences, and compressing your tale to just a few key times in your life.

We hope you understood all about Autobiography! Connect with Leverage Edu today, our trained experts will help you in choosing the right university and will guide you through the application process. 

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