When you’re writing an autobiography, it is important to remember one thing: the story is about the person you are at this moment in time. You’ll certainly be telling people about your stories and experiences that brought you to this moment in time, but this story isn’t about the person you used to be. It’s about who you are now.
It’s also important to remember that an autobiography really is a story. Your memories might feel like facts, but to the reader they are moments provided to them by a character. They are using their imagination to get to know who you are as the storyteller. That’s why it is important to follow an ideal autobiography outline format when creating this work.
Step One: The Introduction
You’ll want to start your autobiography by catching the attention of your reader in some way. What lesson did you learn that made you the person you are today? What have you discovered about life? What is important to you about life?
A solid introduction will set the tone for the rest of your story. It’s like a thesis statement, but you’re making an argument about the person you are right now.
Step Two: The Formative Years
This is the part where you get to talk about your parents if you wish. Talk about how your parents would have described you before the age of four. Share any memories you have about that time in your life. Share the stories that others have told you about that time of your life.
Anything that stands out from your childhood during this era will help to establish the foundation of your character. Your fears are something that will help readers be able to relate to you.
Then move into your grade school years and do the same thing. Your first day of school can be a great thing to add if it helped to provide a cornerstone for the person you are today. Your friends, the bullies at school, how you became a popular kid… how you treated people as a kid and the lessons you learned from that are also cornerstone stories that can lead up to the bigger events.
You can then progress through middle school, high school, and college, pulling out the key stories that shaped your character.
Step Three: Your Family
Love them or hate them, your family helped you to become the person you are today. Maybe they didn’t do you any favors. Maybe they spoiled you rotten. Spend some time talking about these folks and the funny or sad or downright annoying things they do. You might even share some of their words of wisdom that they offered you, both good and bad.
Step Four: Your One Epiphany
Now that you’ve established the foundation of your character with your autobiography outline, you’re ready to show readers how you changed. There is one key moment in your life when you said to yourself that things needed to be different. This is your one epiphany. It is this moment for which many readers will want to pick up the book to read it.
What events led up to this moment? What happened immediately after you decided to take your life in a different direction? The answers to these questions, along with the context already provided, will let readers transition to a new set of experiences.
Step Five: Why This Is Important
There’s a reason why you’re writing your autobiography. It’s time to share with your readers why that is with this step. Any reason is an important one to you, but it may not feel the same way to your readers. This is where how you are different is what will get your story the valuable attention that it needs.
Step Six: The Future
You’ve reached the point where readers can see who you are as a person right now. You’ve shown them your history. You’ve told them your stories. You’ve talked about why you feel the decisions you made were important and the wisdom gleaned from those experiences. You’re not quite finished.
Now you’re ready to discuss what your future plans happen to be. How will you continue to use the knowledge that you’ve gained. What are your hopes? Your dreams? An autobiography doesn’t really have an ending because you’re still alive and kicking, but there does need to be some sort of future outcome for your readers to look toward.
The ideal autobiography outline will help you fill in the blanks needed for readers to be able to connect with you on a personal level. If you’re ready to tell your story, then use this basic outline to encourage future readers to listen to what you have to share.