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Biography vs Autobiography

In the biography vs autobiography debate, there is some confusion had between these two stories as they are both the tale of a person’s life. There is, however, one key difference between the two stories. A biography is the story of a specific person’s life, but told through the words of another writer. An autobiography is the story of a specific person’s life, told by their own words.

This means biographies are typically written in a third-person voice, while an autobiography will be written in a first-person voice.

What Is the Definition of a Biography?

Biographies are an elaborate method of conveying specific factual information about a person. This often includes the time and place of birth, family background information, a work history, and a look at their personal relationship. If the individual has passed away, then details about their death may also be included in the narrative.

In a biography, there may also be opinionated items included within the narrative with the facts. The personality of the individual may be analyzed, for example, or the author may speculate about the reasons why specific choices were made. What is unique about the biography is that it can be offered in several different formats, including film, music, or literature.

What Is the Definition of an Autobiography?

An autobiography is the story of a person’s life through their own eyes. It is the ultimate expression of “self.” Even though many autobiographies tend to be written with the help of other writers, the story is told as if the person is telling it directly to you in person.

Anyone can write an autobiography. Many people journal about what has happened to them during their day and that is actually a form of an autobiography. Any narrative that comes from the first-person and involves personal circumstances qualifies as an autobiography. Most narratives are offered through literature in this format, but theater and music are sometimes autobiography opportunities as well.

What Are the Key Differences Between Biographies and Autobiographies?

Biographies are typically based on researched facts about the person who is the subject material for the book. They may or may not include personal interviews of the individual involved. This means a biography may be an authorized work, meaning the person at the center of the story has given permission for the work to proceed, or may be unauthorized.

An autobiography is also written based on the facts of a person’s life, but there is more depth to these facts because emotions and thoughts can also be included with the narrative. The approach is more personal because there are personal stories, memories, and actions that may only be known to the person involved that can be included, which may not be available to a third-party author.

What makes the autobiography unique is that the perspective can be as narrow or as biased as the writer wants because it is their perspective that is being offered. A biography cannot necessarily take this approach because if the perspective is not correct, the estate of the individual or the individual on their own can take issue with the publication.

An unauthorized biography can still be published as long as it is based on verifiable facts. If the facts are proven to be untrue, then the person at the center of the unauthorized biography may be able to take legal action against the author of the work.

Which Option Is Best For Telling a Story?

Choosing either a biography or an autobiography to tell the story of a person’s life. Much of it has to do with the personal preferences of the individual involved. If that person doesn’t want to write their own story and they don’t want to hire ghostwriters to do it for them, then a biography is the best option. Biographies are also typically the only option for stories about historical figures.

Autobiographies are the best choice for those who wish to make a personal connection to their readers. The use of the first-person voice in the narrative makes the story much more intimate, which often makes the story more memorable to the reader as well. Personal expressions tend to be offered more frequently in this format as well, which may help the reader gain new insights into their own life through the tales of a life lived by another.

So in the biography vs autobiography debate, one is meant to inform readers of a person’s life experiences. The other is to express those life experiences. By deciding what format creates the best possible dialogue, then the correct format will be chosen for the narrative.

Melissa G Wilson

Melissa has been a leader in the book writing, publishing and marketing arena for the past two decades. To date, she has helped more than 100 thought leaders write, publish and market their books. Her clients include executives such as Dan Weinfurter a seven-time Inc 500 winner and Orlando Ashford, President of Holland Cruise Lines.

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