The Five Traits of an Autobiography

Autobiography Characteristics can be a little difficult to nail down. The best way to think about autobiography characteristics is to figure out what gives your story character.

Once you’ve chosen the appropriate way your story, you’ll need to remember five autobiography values to assure yourself that what you capture is an accurate reflection of the life you lived. Remember these five values:

1. Tell Your Story Honestly.

Everyone believes he’s honest. Trouble is that we all tend to exaggerate our lives. Choose honesty from the get-go. Your audience will appreciate and you will respect yourself in the morning.

2. Find Your Voice

We all experience times in our lives when we would rather be someone else. Now is not the time to try and be someone else. You want to preserve an accurate reflection of your personality.

Don’t fall into the trap of wanting to sound like someone else. Just be yourself!

3. Let the Audience Know Your Why

Of course, you should have a why. This makes it easier to continue with the writing. It also lets your audience in on your reasons. You can explicitly express it, or you can let it show through in between the lines of what you write.

In his letter, he identified at least 11 reasons:

He enjoyed collecting stories about his ancestors. In fact, he sometimes traveled to find the stories he wanted.

He thought others might like reading about him.

He wants to tell his rags-to-riches story.

He wants to describe how he found happiness.

He wants to reflect on his life and decide on what he would change.

Next to reliving one’s life, recollecting one’s life is the best thing.

Make the autobiography “durable.” He wants it to persist.

He wants to pamper himself.

He wants to acknowledge the hand of God in his life.

He wants to explain that his success can be reversed.

I’m sure that Benjamin Franklin wouldn’t mind if you stole one of his reasons. If nothing he wrote sounded like a good reason for you, then keep looking. I can’t stress how important it is for you to find your Why.

4. Figure Out Who You’re Writing For

Chances are that someone will read your autobiography someday (if you write it.) Who do you want to write for? If that person were present what would you tell him? Benjamin Franklin’s autobiography is one of the most read autobiographies because he recognized that his audience was wider than himself or even his son.

Who will you write for? Your son? Your daughter? Your grandkids?

5. Choose a Direction

How have the events in your life led you to where you are in life? Maybe your autobiography will demonstrate how your life was shaped. Or maybe you want your autobiography to just be a collection of stories. There are many directions to choose from – choose one!

Autobiography Characteristics Summarized:

1. Don’t lie to your audience (yourself or others)

2. Sound Like You

3. Figure Out Why You’re Writing Your Autobiography

4. Know Who You’re Writing For

5. Know Where You’re Headed

By incorporating these traits into your autobiography, you will write your story in such a way that people will want to read it.

Now get writing!