Writers Republic
Published in

Writers Republic

Key Differences between an Autobiography and a Memoir


If you are going to write about your life or another person’s life, you should know that an autobiography is not the same as a memoir. Many a writer has confused the two, and to their great embarrassment, they are called out on this mistake. As a rule, you should know what makes an autobiography different from a memoir. Here are the key differences between the two.

What is an autobiography?

An autobiography, in layman’s terms, is the written account of a person’s life. The main purpose of an autobiography is to show readers the experiences of the author. Because of this, the autobiography is written in the latter part of the author’s life. This will give the author more experiences and achievements to write about.

Key traits

· An autobiography is usually written in a first-person account

Remember that an autobiography is usually written by the subject of the book. This entails the author writing a first-person account. This is usually used because it allows you to tell the story of your life in a more effective and efficient way.

· It must be in chronological order

An autobiography is meant to encapsulate a large part of the subject’s life. This means that an autobiography should be written in chronological order. You should begin your autobiography with your birth and work your way up to the present day. When you write your autobiography, you should make sure that there are no errors in your timeline. Remember that you are writing about your life, so the timeline should be as perfect as possible.

· It must be thoroughly researched

Whether you are writing about your own life or you are writing an autobiography for other people, it is important that you get all the facts straight. Remember that you are writing a factual account of the subject’s life.

This means you should be as thorough with your research as possible. Take your time in researching key facts about your life. Even if you are writing about your life, there will still be times when you will forget key details of your own life. Remember that our own memories are fallible, so it pays to double check details before you write anything down.

If you are writing an autobiography for another person, it is even more important that you do your research thoroughly. You are not only writing about your own life but someone else’s, so the stakes are indeed higher.

What is a memoir?

A memoir is an intimate written account of the author’s life. In general, a memoir is a very emotional piece of writing because it is not meant to state facts or dates. Instead, it is meant to show the emotions and experiences that the author went through in life.

Key traits

· It is usually focused on specific themes

If you are going to write a memoir, it is important that it focuses on specific themes. These themes could be practically anything you could think of. They could be themes of loss, resilience, forgiveness, joy, etc. What’s important is that you incorporate these themes into the overall narrative of your memoir and do so consistently.

· It is not as complete as an autobiography

Compared to an autobiography, a memoir is nowhere near as comprehensive or long. A memoir does not tell the whole story of the author’s life. Instead, it is meant to focus on episodes in the subject’s life. This means that you don’t have to write about your whole life. Instead, you just need to choose a part that is particularly important and that has helped form who you are as a person.

· Natural dialogue is key

When you write dialogue for your memoir, it is important that you make it sound as natural as possible. While an autobiography usually uses a more journalistic style of dialogue, you could use a more casual tone in a memoir. When you write a memoir, you should be telling a story to your readers. A story about a specific aspect of your life and how it affected who you are as a person.

· It has a slower pace

Remember that memoirs have a slower pace than an autobiographies. This is because you have the luxury of time when you write a memoir. You only need to write about specific parts of your life, not the whole thing. So you don’t need to rush with your writing. Take your time and utilize more emotional wordplay in your writing.


When it comes to writing about your own or another person’s life, it is important that you know the difference between an autobiography and a memoir. If you don’t know the difference, you may get embarrassed in the long run. With this article, you will know the key differences between the two.

If you want to learn more about the many book genres and how to self-publish a book, check out Writers Republic. Get a free consultation and start your writing journey now!

Posts you might also like:

5 Easy to Follow Tips on Staying Inspired as a Writer!

4 Types of Writing Styles and How to Use Them

Essential Online Writing Tools That Every Writer Needs



Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store