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What Type of Writing is an Autobiography

writing an autobiography

If you are writing an autobiography, then you are creating a chronological tale about your life. You will be taking the reader from the earliest memories you have to the current moment. Since it can be difficult to remember every single detail about your life, many autobiographies are written in two parts: from personal memory and from interviews of family, friends, and other important people that are in your life.

You can write the autobiography all by yourself if you wish. Many autobiographies are written with the help of ghostwriters or writing assistants to help keep thoughts organized and flowing from a central thesis. This is because an autobiography is essentially a story. A factual story, of course, but a story nonetheless.

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Why Is an Autobiography and a Memoir Different From Each Other?

An autobiography tells the story of an entire life. It’s often told through your eyes, so it shares your thoughts, perspectives, and emotions to the reader. When someone reads an autobiography, they should be able to step into your shoes and feel like they are living your life from your perspective.

A memoir is still a factual tale, but is only one memory from your life. If you think about a key moment from your life and tell that story to someone, then you’re telling a memoir. A collection of memoirs can be very much like an autobiography, especially if they have an ordered timeline, but they will still be different than an autobiography in format.

The issue here isn’t necessarily the content. An autobiography will often have the same content as a memoir. It’s the structure of the writing itself that we’re looking at here. In an autobiography, you are transitioning story after story to a central thesis and to each story and it’s all about the purpose of your life.

In a memoir, you have fewer formal transitions which link the stories, but still have the links to a central thesis.

What Voice Is Used For an Autobiography?

Because an autobiography is written from your personal perspective, the writing voice used for most will be in the first person. This means using personal pronouns like “me,” “I,” and “our.” This makes the stories offered become very personal, as if you were in the room with the reader telling them each personal story yourself.

Some autobiographies can be written in the third person, but that is typically when someone else is writing the autobiography of a person who has passed away. Unauthorized autobiographies may also sometimes be written in the third person. This type of writing voice uses more impersonal pronouns, such as “he,” “she,” and “their.”

It is extremely rare to have an autobiography written from a second-person voice. This content, for example, is written in the second-person. This is because the writing is addressed directly to you, using pronouns like “you,” “your,” and “yours.” The goal is for you to learn something new that can be personally applied to your life. You’ll find guide books, blog posts, songs, and speeches tend to have this voice more than the average autobiography.

Why Facts Matter In an Autobiography

An autobiography is a lot like a non-fiction book. Sure – autobiographies include perspectives and thoughts, but because they come from a personal perspective, they are still considered to be facts. The goal of an autobiography is to be as close to the truth as possible with every word that is being written for the reader to enjoy.

Memoirs and other similar types of documentary writing are a little different. Facts are still important, but being 100% factual isn’t always stressed. This is because a person’s memory can recall details of an event very differently over time. A person’s perspectives and experiences can have them see an incident happen one way when everyone else sees things a different way.

This is why interviews from close family, friends, and associates are often part of the autobiography writing process. By including feedback about the individual involved from several different perspectives, it becomes possible to get a clearer picture about who a person is and what their story actually means.

What type of writing is an autobiography? It’s one-part non-fiction, one-part documentary writing, and one-part journalistic writing, yet it is presented in the first-person in most circumstances. If you can follow that formula, then you can tell your story very effectively and convey to your readers the wisdom you have learned over the years.

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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