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Autobiographies – Intro, Key Elements and Steps

Sep 6, 2022


Autobiography, as a genre, is one of the most diverse types of nonfiction writing. Readers enjoy learning more about the lives of their fellow humans, particularly the ones with notable personal stories, as evidenced by bestseller lists. An autobiography is a biography written by the subject. An autobiography, being a first-hand account of the author’s own life, provides readers of the wider biography genre with an unrivaled level of intimacy. 

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 typical biography, which is usually written by someone other than the subject-usually, a historian-an autobiography is written by the subject. 

Autobiographies are widely read by the general public. A new autobiography by a prominent political figure can easily reach the top of the New York Times bestseller list. Certain autobiographical writings, such as Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass’ , can easily last for well over a century and even end up being a part of the literary canon. 

Things to include in an autobiography: 

All of the most crucial facts of your life narrative should be included in an autobiography. This isn’t to say that it has to include every last detail; a self-aware autobiographer may assess certain aspects of his/her own life that may be interesting to them but not to an audience of strangers. 

Take a look at some of the key elements that should be included in your autobiography: 

  1. Describe your personal beginnings story in your own words: 

This can include your hometown, family history, important family members and loved ones, and educational milestones. 

  1. Significant experiences: 

Add accounts of all the personal experiences that have impacted your current outlook and approach to life. 

  1. Recollections of specific incidents from your professional life: 

Often, these are the moments that will make your autobiography famous—the ones that will entice someone to pick up your book in the first place. Make an additional effort to look after them. 

  1. A personal failure story: 

Then tell a nice story about how you dealt with the failure. 

  1. A compelling and unique title: 

Avoid using terms like “my autobiography” or “the narrative of me, my family, and notable individuals I know.” 

  1. A first person narrative voice: 

While third-person can be used for traditional biographies, it might come out as arrogant in an autobiography. 

Now, let us take a look at the steps that should be followed while writing an autobiography

Steps that should be followed while writing an autobiography.

Setting out to write your life’s tale might be intimidating, especially in the initial draft. Take a look at the step-by-step method to writing your autobiography: 

  1. Start by brainstorming: 

The writing process starts with a list of any and all life experiences that you think would be interesting to a reader. Make sure the you cover all eras of your life as you go through your memories, from childhood to high school, your first employment, and the events in your life that you are most famous for. Although many of these incidents will not make it into the final copy of your book, keep the process broad and open for now. 

  1. Craft an outline: 

Begin to construct a story based on the most intriguing episodes from your brainstorming session. You’ll be able to keep your readers’ attention from beginning to conclusion if you pace your life’s major events across your book. 

  1. Do your research: 

Once you’ve finished your first draft of your outline, do some research to help you remember the details about the time period you’re writing about. Interview family members and friends to assist you in remembering all of the specifics from the events you want to include in your autobiography. Because no one can recall their entire life—especially their childhood—be prepared to conduct some cultural study as well. 

  1. Write your first draft: 

If you’ve identified the important biographical episodes that will serve as anchors for your life story, you’re ready to start writing a first draft. This draft may be excessively long and disjointed, but competent writers understand that even the tightest final drafts can be the result of a long and winding first draft. 

  1. Take a break: 

Take a few days off after you’ve finished your first draft. You’ll want to read your work with as much freshness as possible, so taking a break from the process for a few days will help. 

  1. Proofread: 

Start proofreading again after a short break. Yes, you should look for grammatical errors, but you should also seek for weak spots in the story and make suggestions for improvement. Consider what you’d look for in a biography of someone else’s life and apply it to your own autobiography. 

  1. Write your next draft: 

Based on the notes you’ve taken, write a second draft. After that, present it to trustworthy friends and, a professional editor, if you have one after the second draft is finished. Their fresh eyes will provide you with a crucial perspective on your work that you won’t be able to get from your own. 

  1. Refine your writing: 

Step 7 can be repeated as needed. Following fresh revisions, new reads from new people should be made. You’ll improve your writing abilities and autobiographical knowledge as you go through the procedure. Hopefully, you’ll wind up with a final copy that is light years ahead of what you wrote in the first draft—but still true to the most significant aspects of your life and your unique truth. 


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