Writing 101: Autobiography

Do you have to be famous to write an autobiography? How old do you have to be to write an autobiography? What actually makes a book an autobiography? Let's get the answers.

A Song of Myself

An autobiography is a very specific type of book, and must meet certain criteria before the name applies. A book is an autobiography when, and only when, it is a life story written by the person who lived that life. If I write a book about Jade Varden's life, it's an autobiography because I'm her. But if I write a book about Harry Truman's life, it's called a biography because I'm not him. 

On biographies, they're a bear to write. You have to get the person's permission (otherwise you have to bill the book as an "unauthorized" biography, and you have to make darn sure that every single fact is absolutely accurate). 

And all you have to do to write an autobiography is simply to be you. Authors have written them while very young and very old, so there's no limit on when or how you ought to do it. If your life story is fascinating and you want to write it, write it. But remember that you can only write about autobiography if it's about yourself...for the most part.

More and more writers are also writing fictitious autobiographies. You can write one about one of your characters, for example, or even a legendary character from folklore. Fictitious autobiographies are a little looser, rule-wise, and they're starting to become more popular. They could be the next "in" genre, so now's the time to start learning a little more about autobiographies.

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