Difference Between Biography vs Autobiography vs Memoir

Difference Between Biography vs Autobiography vs Memoir

When you look at the three primary formats of a book about memory, you will find that it is either a biography, autobiography, or memoir. These are used to tell a life story. While they seem similar, distinguishing between the three can be slightly confusing as they share similar characteristics. If you study them and understand them properly, you will see obvious differences between the three primary formats.

In simple terms, an autobiography is a story of a person’s life, while a biography is known as an individual’s life history. Lastly, a memoir is a collection of memories written by the person themselves. While these are the basics of these formats, we will delve deeper into the three to help you understand them better. So whether you are someone interested in writing one of the three or simply want to learn the differences, this article is for you.

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What is an Autobiography?

An autobiography is a narrative of an individual’s life written by that individual. Since the author is the story’s main character, autobiographies are typically written in the first person. Usually, the book’s subject writes their own autobiography, but sometimes it may be written by someone else. Because an autobiography is usually a life story, the theme can vary from religious to a personal account meant to be passed onto future generations.

The reason why people would choose to write an autobiography is to represent the life experiences and gains of the author. Most autobiographies are written later in life; they are written from the author’s point of view and are meant to be understood that way as well. It is different for you as a reader to relate to their events. So, it usually uses first-person accounts to describe the story.

An autobiography is a collection of the author’s memories and experiences. It begins with the author’s early childhood and follows a chronological order, detailing significant events throughout their life. This type of storytelling typically covers the author’s journey from primary school to college, their career, life experiences, interactions with others, challenges faced, and key achievements.

At times, an autobiography is formed from a person’s diary entries. When these diaries are used, the other will obviously have to organize them chronologically, or else the entire autobiography will be scattered.

Subjectivity is one of the main factors that distinguishes an autobiography vs. a biography. This is because autobiographies are written by the present facts and the subject on their own memories or recollections of thoughts. The story explores the author’s perspectives on specific subjects and describes their feelings as they navigate various situations. These stories are deeply personal as they offer an intimate account of the author’s life rather than a third party’s biographical account of a specific person.

A couple of famous examples of autobiographies are The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank, Long Walk to Freedom by Nelson Mandela, and The Story of My Life by Hellen Keller.

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What is a Biography?

A biography, also known as a bio, is a nonfiction work providing an objective interpretation of a person’s life. The principal difference between a biography vs. autobiography is that the author of a biography is not the protagonist/subject. A biography could cover someone who has lived years ago, or is still living today.

Biographies include details of pivotal events that shaped the subject’s life, as well as information about their birthplace, education, work, and relationships. Biographers use various research sources, including interviews, letters, diaries, photographs, essays, reference books, and newspapers. While biographies are usually in written form, they can also be produced in other formats such as music composition or film.

When writing a biography about a deceased individual, thorough research is essential. This may involve conducting interviews with historical experts, acquaintances, and family members. Additionally, reviewing older accounts and writings about the person can provide valuable insights. In the case of a living subject, the author can directly interview them to gain a deeper understanding of their life.

The primary aim of a biography is to chronicle the subject’s life journey, starting from their early years through adolescence and early adulthood and into their later life. Through the narrative, the biography should convey the individual’s experiences, life lessons, and approach to the world. Ultimately, it should paint a vivid picture of the person’s character, qualities, and their impact on the world around them.

Biographies can focus on groups of people, not just individuals. For instance, a biography could be a historical account of a group from centuries ago. This group might have a central figure, and the author writes about the group to narrate how they influenced the world.

Fictional biographies blend true historical accounts with fictional events to enhance the story. Think of fictional biographies as movies that come with a disclaimer: the characters are real, but some events are invented to add to the storyline and amusement value. Although a lot of research is still required for a fictional biography, the author has more flexibility to craft a storyline instead of sticking strictly to concrete events.

A few famous examples of biographies are Rosemary: The Hidden Kennedy Daughter, Victoria: The Queen: An Intimate Biography of the Woman Who Ruled an Empire, and Princess Diana: A Biography of the Princess of Wales by Drew L. Crichton.

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What is a Memoir?

The word memoir originated from the French word mémoire, which means reminiscence. While the similarities between a memoir and an autobiography can be uncanny, a memoir is the story of an individual’s life written by that person. These stories are heavily made from diary entries and present events that the person is experiencing.

The main contrast between a memoir and an autobiography lies in their focus. While an autobiography presents the facts about one’s life in a chronological manner, a memoir emphasizes reflection and emotional connection. It delves into personal experiences and aims to tell an intimate and emotional story about the author’s life, whether it’s about private or public events.

Memoirs can take various forms, but all serve to offer an emotional account of the subject’s life. They often narrate the story of a person who faced and overcame significant challenges. Additionally, they can include confessionals, where the author’s version of events contradicts another’s account. The focus is intentionally narrow, excluding biographical or chronological details unless they are particularly meaningful to the story.

This writing style often covers stories from the lives of famous individuals. These individuals could be celebrities, known public figures, or people who have achieved giant successful projects that have made a difference to the world. You could also interview these people to get to know them better, and then you can successfully outline and write about their lives. Memoirs can take up to several months to complete because every detail and information the memoir possesses should be accurate.

Memoirs typically don’t require as much research as biographies and autobiographies because they are based on personal accounts such as diary entries and documents containing the individual’s thoughts. However, it may be necessary to conduct several interviews in order to organize the diary entries and provide an accurate account of the person’s thoughts and emotions. Unlike autobiographies, memoirs do not necessarily need to be presented in chronological order, but doing so may contribute to a more compelling narrative.

Famous memoir examples are I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou, Night by Elie Wiesel, and In the Dream House by Carmen Maria Machado.

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Now You Know!

It can be difficult to distinguish between the three writing styles and their formats because the most common feature of a biography, autobiography, or memoir involves the past. This past is linked with memory or a series of old events that need to be recalled to form the entire story. This creates a baseline for the story.

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FAQ’S

Is a memoir considered an autobiography?

A story about an individual’s life from early childhood or birth is typically called an autobiography, while a memoir is about a specific period in that individual’s life on certain experiences and occasions.

Why would someone write a memoir instead of an autobiography?

Memoirs are initially written to inspire. They highlight internal processes and private experiences and revolve around deeper themes, while autobiographies highlight important events and induce objective facts about a person’s life.

Can a memoir be a diary?

While memoirs can be inspired by diary entries, they are usually used to connect certain events. They help you create a key plot for your memoir, and then once you link them together for your reader, you come up with an organized memoir, not a diary.

Who can write a memoir?

Anyone can write a memoir; however, you will need profound insight and an organized structure. That is where you can hire professional ghostwriters to help you stay on track with your memoir writing.