How to write an autobiographical story

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Many people want to write an autobiography, and various questions arise. What is the difference between a biography and an autobiographical novel or memoir? Should I tell my whole life story or just part of my life? What about the personal rights of the persons described?

Many people want to write their autobiography. The reasons for a biography are different. Some writers just want to tell their story. Another motive could be the desire to leave something behind for posterity. Other people use the writing to process certain events in their own life. Regardless of what the reason for the autobiography is. You should plan your biography carefully and decide in advance what you want to tell readers about your life.

Before getting into planning and writing the biography, it makes sense to take a closer look at the genre and distinguish it from related forms such as the autobiographical novel and memoir. Strictly speaking, autobiographies do not belong to fiction, as they are not fiction and classic entertainment literature. Often the Biography of the non-fiction books assigns. It is the same with the memoirs. The autobiographical novel, on the other hand, clearly belongs to fiction.


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Autobiography, Autobiographical Novel, and Memoir - What's the Difference?

Before you start writing your biography, you should know the differences to related genres. The term memoir comes from the French mémoire (written statement or memorandum) and the Latin memoria (memory). You may know memoirs of politicians or other people in contemporary history. In these works is usually the social role of the author in connection with historical events in focus. Memoirs, which are also called memories in Germany, can shed light on a shorter section of the life story. One example is “From the fall of the wall to reunification: My memories” by Helmut Kohl.

Memoirs are reserved for people of contemporary history. Ordinary people who want to tell their life story write an autobiography. The autobiographical novel is a different genre, here they mix Reality and fiction. It is often not clear to the reader what the author has experienced and what has been invented. If you have decided to write a biography, you should determine in advance what you want to tell the reader about your life.

Clearly structure the autobiography and set priorities

In an autobiography, you don't necessarily have to include your life story from birth to the time of writing. Instead, you can focus on certain eventful years such as limiting a longer stay abroad or overcoming a crisis of meaning. Regardless of what you want to write down, it is important to bring in a clear structure and to set priorities. Which phases would you like to tell in more detail and what can you only cover on a few pages. Having a clear structure makes writing an autobiography much easier.

When you have the structure of your biography in front of you, there are a few sections that will catch your eye, the Clarification or detailed research need. Maybe you still have to look through some documents (e.g. your time at university) or talk to fellow travelers. Sometimes it is not enough just to write everything down from memory. Try to clarify doubts as much as possible, after all, you don't want to falsify your life story.

Most authors write an autobiography chronologically and in the first person, this one way of writing has proven itself many times over. Even if the biography belongs strictly to the non-fiction books, it makes sense to rely on writing techniques like in the novel. Build tension and captivate your reader. You should also write your story as authentically as possible. An example of an authentic biography is “Herbstmilch” by farmer Anna Wimschneider. The book is written in a simple language.

Have a biography written - work with a ghostwriter

Autobiographies are trendy. Many celebrities have published their life stories in recent years. Very few of them wrote their book themselves, but had it written by a ghostwriter. You don't have to be a celebrity to commission your biography from such a service provider. The costs for a ghostwriter are usually in four-digit range and should deter most people.

How much exactly you pay for a ghostwriter depends on many factors. How many pages should the work be? Is there any additional time required besides writing (e.g. research)? Have parts already been written that only require revision? Such factors determine the exact price of writing an autobiography. You can find a large selection of ghostwriters on the Internet.

It is particularly important that "the chemistry" is right between you and the ghostwriter. Many discussions and votes will take place during the creation of the biography. You should trust the person who is writing a book for you.

Autobiography and Personal Rights

Whether you write your work alone or commission it, in your autobiography you also write about the people on your life path. Especially when you deal with tragic events and settle accounts with certain people in your book, you should be careful. The situation with the autobiographical novel is just as problematic. Reality and fiction are blurred here, making it difficult for the reader to differentiate.

The question of whether you are violating personal rights with your biography cannot be answered across the board and depends strongly from the individual case from. If you want to be on the safe side, you should seek advice from a specialist lawyer.

The book insider's conclusion: How do I write an autobiography?

The motives for writing a biography are different. You tell your life story in an autobiography. There are related genres. Memoirs are written by people of contemporary history and are related to historical events. The autobiographical novel mixes fiction and reality.

  • In an autobiography, you don't necessarily have to tell your life story from birth to the current point in time. Often authors only shed light on a specific and eventful phase of life.
  • Before you start writing. Plan your book carefully, structure your life story and focus on it. If there are any contradictions or ambiguities, try to solve the questions as well as possible.
  • The autobiography is one of the non-fiction books. Still, write your book like a novel. Be authentic and engage the reader.
  • You can commission your biography from a ghostwriter. Such a service provider incurs costs in the four-digit range. If you choose a ghostwriter, you should trust this person.
  • In your autobiography you will also tell about people who have accompanied you on your life path. Be careful not to violate any personal rights. If in doubt, seek legal advice from a specialist lawyer.

When writing your autobiography, write your life story chronologically and in first-person form. This is how most authors go about their work on a biography.