How to write an autobiography
What is your story? Any person who has lived a interested life can tell something interesting to the world. To write a biography should be approached as the writing of any novel: the book should be the main character (you), the main conflict, as well as a few curious characters that will not let the reader get bored. In this article we will tell you how to write an autobiography and bring the book to perfection.
Analyze the stages of life
Record the main events in chronological order
Writing a biography should begin with an analysis of events. If you post all events in chronological order, you will have a base for the book. You can consider it a stage of thinking over the basic ideas for a biography, so write down everything that you remember, even if it seems to you that an event will not remain in the final version of the book.
Biography does not have to start from birth. You can include the family history in it. Write about the ancestors, the lives of grandparents, as well as parents. Information about your relatives will allow the reader to understand why your personality took shape that way.
What happened when you were a teenager? What led you to the decisions you made?
Did you go to university? Write about these intermediate years.
Tell us about your career, relationships, children and significant events that have changed your life.
Decide who will be the main actors
In each interesting book there are fascinating characters, positive and negative, which make the story more exciting. Who are the heroes of your life? It is obvious that parents and spouse have a significant impact on life, but you need to think about who else influenced you and who should take your place in the autobiography.
Teachers, coaches, mentors and supervisors have a significant impact on people’s lives. Think whether one of these people has become a person from whom you take an example, or someone who is the complete opposite of what you think is right.
Former lovers can become heroes of interesting episodes of the book.
Did you have any enemies? The story will be insipid if there is no conflict in it.
Such secondary characters as pets, celebrities you’ve never met, and even cities, often make the book interesting to the reader.
Write down the best moments
The full story of life can be too long, so you need to decide what to leave and what to omit. Start working on the draft, throwing out the most fascinating stories, which then can be combined into a larger picture. There are several topics that readers usually like:
Stories from childhood. Whatever your childhood, you should include a few stories about it, so that the reader will have an understanding of who you were at that time and what happened to you. You can recall several episodes that will allow readers to draw a conclusion about your character. For example, describe the parents’ reaction to how you brought home a stray dog, or how you jumped out of the school window and fled for three days, or friendship with a tramp who lived in a nearby yard. Strain the memory!
Stories about growing up. This difficult period is always of interest. Remember that you don’t have to describe something unique, because everyone grows up. It is necessary to tell something that each reader can relate to himself.
Stories of love. You can describe and the opposite, that is, the inability to find your love.
Stories about the crisis of self-determination. This crisis usually happens after 30 or 40 years, and it is often called the middle age crisis.
Stories about the fight against evil forces. It can be a story about trying to overcome a bad habit, to get away from an authoritarian partner or to escape from a person who threatens to kill the whole family. It is very important to describe the conflicts that you had to endure.
Write as only you would
People read autobiographies to understand what it means to be someone else. Uniqueness will allow you to interest people. If your style is too formal and faceless or if the book is written in the spirit of a school essay, people are unlikely to read your biography to the end.
Write as if you were telling something to a close friend. Use a simple, expressive language, avoiding words that you do not usually remember.
Write so that the book reveals your identity. You have a good sense of humor? Are you wayward? Appreciate spirituality? Do you like dramatizing? Do not hold back – your personality should be reflected in the way you tell the story.
Tell about yourself frankly
You don’t have to lay out all details, but you need to describe everything truthfully. The book should not become a list of your achievements, so there is no need to hide all bad things. Describe yourself from different angles, mentioning both strengths and weaknesses, and you will be able to keep readers’ attention, because they will project your descriptions on yourself.
Do not describe yourself only on the good side. You can be non-ideal and still be a good character. Tell us about your mistakes and about how you let yourself and other people down.
Share your inmost thoughts, opinions and ideas, including ambiguous ones. Remain yourself throughout the book.
Describe the spirit of the times
How did your life affect the historical events? What wars influenced your political views? What cultural events inspired you? Having told about what was happening in the world at certain moments of your life, you will make your story more profound and interesting.
Work on the story
Think of the main story
Now that you know what should be in the book, think about what structure will be. Like any book, your autobiography needs a fascinating story. Work with the material that you already have, and write a story in which the tension will gradually build up, and then everything will be resolved. Create a structure in which the recorded memories and stories will be intertwined and arranged in a logical order.
What will be the main conflict? What do you consider to be the greatest obstacle in your life, the struggle with which you took many years? Perhaps this is a disease that you have discovered in childhood, or complicated relationships, or a number of difficulties in your professional life, or the goal that you have been striving for for many years. For examples of conflicts, refer to your favorite books and movies.
Construct the plot so that the tension is constantly growing. Combine several stories into the storyline, bringing the story to a culmination. If the conflict is the desire to win at the Olympic Games, let the readers down to it with the help of stories about small victories and big defeats. Your reader should be wondering if you have coped, whether you were able to do it. He must want to know what will happen next.
Describe the culmination. At some point the conflict will have to reach the maximum point. At the most crucial moment, you face your greatest enemy, or because of your passion for gambling, you lose all your money. These are examples of what could happen to you in the culmination.
Complete the book by resolving the conflict. Many autobiographies end well, because the person who wrote this book survived and, in all likelihood, printed his work. Even if your ending is not so happy, it should still reflect some kind of completeness and something positive. You were able to achieve the goal and were satisfied with everything that happened. If you lose, you have acquired wisdom.
Decide where the story will begin
You can arrange events in chronological order, starting from birth and ending with the current moment, but if the stages of life are interleaved, it will be even more interesting.
You can write as if you are now thinking about your past and describing some events, looking back.
You can start the story with a tragic moment that occurred in childhood, then move to your ancestors, then to school years, and then move on to a career, from time to time inserting funny stories from childhood to dilute the seriousness of the narrative.
The main storyline should link all the stories together, the past and the present. What other topics were in your life besides the main conflict? Love for certain holidays or for some places, where you come back again and again, the type of men who always attracted you, the religion you have been referring to more than once. Let the secondary topics complement your image.
Look at all that happened from the side
You summarize the lessons of life, but what exactly do you understand? Think about your intentions, desires, feelings of loss, happiness, wisdom and other feelings and describe them in the book. Distracting from the plot and going into reflections, you will make the book deeper.
Break the book into chapters
Chapters are useful in that they allow you to move from one period or event to another. That is why there is such a phrase as “to open a new chapter in life”, and it is especially relevant when working on an autobiography. The breakdown into chapters will allow you to move 10 years ahead, go back to the past or start telling about something completely different, without knocking the reader off the idea.
Try to finish the chapter on a tragic note or a tense situation, so that the reader would like to move on to a new chapter sooner.
At the beginning of the chapter it is good to look back, describe the environment and the situation and set the tone for what will happen later.