Autobiography vs Memoir - Differences & Similarities
“Each of us is a book waiting to be written, and that book, if written, results in a person explained.” ― Thomas M. Cirignano,
Memoirs and Autobiographies- a curious type of writing, which has been around for centuries?
Memoirs are first-person accounts where the author tells their life story.
Memoirs and autobiographies are first-person accounts of the writer’s life. They tell the life story of the writer.
Distinguishing between the two is quite confusing as they share several similarities. But there are some distinct differences between them.
In this blog, you’ll get to learn the similarities and differences between writing an autobiography and a memoir. Sit back and begin reading the blog.
What is a Memoir?
The memoir word is extracted from the French word mémoire, which means reminiscence or memories. The memoir is a life story of the author’s life written by themselves. It is a collection of memories written by the authors themselves.
The memoir presents one specific part of the author’s life. While writing a memoir, the author chooses a particular part of his life to share with people. They present greater emphasis on emotional experience and the writer’s soul. It is a type of autobiography that gives a glimpse into a particular part of the writer’s life.
Characteristics of the Memoir
Here are the few characteristics that a memoir possess:
- The memoir focuses on the relationship between the author and a particular place or person.
- They particularly explain the significance of the relationship.
- They present only a particular or specific part of the author’s life.
- They are limited to a specific time period, a particular phase, or recurring behavior.
Here are some popular examples of a memoir:
- Angela's Ashes: A Memoir by Frank McCourt
- Becoming by Michelle Obama
- Eat, Pray, Love: One Woman's Search for Everything Across Italy, India, and Indonesia by American author Elizabeth Gilbert.
What is an Autobiography?
An autobiography presents the life history or the story of the author’s life written by themselves. They focus on the chronology of the author’s entire life. They cover the whole life of the author up to the point of writing. Autobiography portrays the achievements and personal experiences of the author.
Therefore, they are written later in the author’s life. They begin during early childhood by telling where the author was born and brought up. And they chronologically present the key events that occur throughout the author’s life. Read a few autobiography examples of famous persons and historical figures known in society to understand how they are written.
Characteristics of an Autobiography
Here are the characteristics of an autobiography:
- They cover the entire life of the author.
- They are about and written by a famous person.
- They present a greater emphasis on history.
- They present the author’s real-life story in chronological order.
Here are some famous autobiographies:
- The Autobiography of Malcolm X
- The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin by Benjamin Franklin
- Dreams From My Father Novel by Barack Obama
Autobiography vs. Memoir: Difference and Similarities
Below given comparison chart gives a complete picture of the similarities and differences between a memoir and an autobiography.
Biography vs. Autobiography vs. Memoir Comparison Chart
Just look at the comparison chart given below if you need to know the similarities and differences between autobiography and biography. Or you need to compare biography and memoir. The given below comparison chart covers them all.
|An account of a person’s complete life||An account of the author’s own life||An account of a specific time in the author’s life|
|Objective in nature||Subjective in nature||Subjective in nature|
|Written in the third person||Written in the first person||Written in the first person|
|Written to inform||Written to inform||Written to explore emotions|
|Written at any time in life||Written near the end of life||Written at any time in life|
Autobiography vs. Memoir vs. Personal Narrative
The difference and similarities between autobiography, memoir and personal narrative are:
|An account of a person’s life||An account of one’s own life||Story of the author’s life|
|Written in the first person||Written in the first person||Written in the first person|
|Focused on certain incidents in a person’s life||It is told from the beginning to the present time.||Presents a few key events within the writer's life.|
|It can be written at any time in life.||Written nearer the end of a person's life.||It can be written at any age.|
|Subjective in nature||Subjective in nature||Subjective in nature|
|Written chronologically||Move back and forth in time||Written chronologically|
|It relies on scenes to communicate the plot or theme.||Presents the entire life story of the author’s life.||Narrate the author’s experience to communicate a specific theme.|
|Written to explore the emotions||Written to inform||Written to share an experience or emotion|
Tips for writing an Autobiography and Memoir
An autobiography or memoir is a story about your life. You should follow these tips:
- Use fiction writing techniques.
- Write in an engaging way.
- Mention the specific dates of the events and focus on facts and dialogues that sound natural, not journalistic.
- Do in-depth research and start with a strong hook.
- Pick a strong theme to focus on the main events of your life.
People usually have amazing stories to tell, but they don’t know how to communicate the actual feeling through words. Because they are not familiar with the autobiography format or memoir format.
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Frequently Asked Question
Can an autobiography be a memoir?
You might be asked to write your life story. Sometimes, you might call it an autobiography. But sometimes, you might call it a memoir.
Memoirs are about something that happened in your life and how it made you feel at the time or still makes you feel now. An autobiography is usually about what someone has done and accomplished in their lifetime.
How long should memoir chapters be?
Most nonfiction books have between 5 and 20 chapters. If your chapters are either too long or you have too many ideas, then you should add more chapters.