Creative Nonfiction: Memoir vs. Autobiography vs. Biography

Writing any form of nonfiction story deserve to be a difficult task. Together the author, you have the responsibility to phone call a true story and also share the facts together accurately as you can—while additionally making the experience enjoyable for the reader.

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There space three primary layouts to phone call a an imaginative nonfiction story: memoir, autobiography, and biography. Each has actually its own unique characteristics, for this reason it’s important to know the differences between them to ensure you’re writing within the correct scope.


A memoir is a collection of an individual memories related to certain moments or experience in the author’s life. Told native the perspective of the author, memoirs space written in very first person point of view.

The defining characteristic that sets memoirs apart from autobiographies and biographies is that is scope. While the other genres focus on the entire timeline the a person’s life, memoirs framework themselves ~ above one aspect, such as addiction, parenting, adolescence, disease, faith, etc.

They may tell story from miscellaneous moments in the author’s life, however they should read choose a cohesive story—not just a re-telling the facts.

“You don’t desire a voice that simply relates truth to the reader. You desire a voice that reflects the reader what’s walking on and puts the or she in the room through the world you’re creating about.” – Kevan Lyon in Writing a Memoir

Unlike autobiographies and biographies, memoirs focus an ext on the author’s partnership to and feelings around his or her very own memories. Memoirs tend to read an ext like a fiction novel than a factual account, and also should encompass things like dialogue, setting, character descriptions, and also more.

Authors spring to create a memoir deserve to glean insight from both fiction and also nonfiction genres. Although memoirs phone call a true story, they focus on telling an engaging narrative, as with a novel. This provides memoir writer a little an ext flexibility to improve upon the story slightly for narrative effect.

However, you should represent dialogue and also scenarios as accurately together you can, especially if you’re worried around libel and defamation lawsuits.

Examples of popular memoirs encompass Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert and The Glass lock by Jeannette Walls.

Key properties of a memoir:

- created in first person POV native the view of the author- less formal compared to autobiographies and biographies- narrow in limit or timeline- Focused much more on feelings and also memories 보다 facts- more flexibility to change the story because that effect


Like a memoir, an autobiography is the author’s retelling the his or her life and told in an initial person point of view, make the author the key character the the story.

Autobiographies are likewise narrative nonfiction, so the stories space true but also include storytelling elements such together a protagonist (the author), a central conflict, and also a cast of intriguing characters.

Unlike memoirs, autobiographies focus more on facts 보다 emotions. Due to the fact that of this, a collaborator regularly joins the project to help the author tell the most factual, target story possible.

While a memoir is minimal in scope, an autobiography details the author’s whole life as much as the present. An autobiography often starts when the author is young and includes thorough chronology, events, places, reactions, movements and other relevant happenings throughout the author’s life.

“In many people’s memoir, they carry out start as soon as they’re younger, but it isn’t an, ‘I gained a dog, climate we got a fish, and also then i learned to tie mine shoes’…it isn’t that type of detail.” – Linda pleasure Meyers in Memoir vs. Autobiography

The chronology of one autobiography is organized but not have to in date order. For instance, the author may begin from current time and also employ flashbacks or he/she may organize occasions thematically.

Autobiographers use countless sources of information to build the story such as letters, photographs, and also other personal memorabilia. However, prefer a memoir, the author’s an individual memory is the main resource. Any kind of other sources just enrich the story and relay accurate and also engaging experiences.

A great autobiography includes specific details that only the author knows and also provides context by connecting those details to bigger issues, themes, or events. This allows the leader to relate an ext personally to the author’s experience.

Examples of well-known autobiographies encompass The Diary that a Young Girl by anne Frank and I understand Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou.

Key characteristics of an autobiography:

- composed in 1st person POV indigenous the perspective of the author, periodically with the assist of a collaborator- an ext formal and also objective 보다 memoirs, but much more subjective than biographies- large in limit or timeline, frequently covering the author’s entire life up to the present- Focused an ext on facts than emotions- Requires an ext extensive fact-checking and also research 보다 memoirs, however less 보다 biographies


A story is the story the events and also circumstances that a person’s life, created by someone other than the person. Usually, human being write biographies around ahistoricalorpublic figure. They can be written v or there is no the subject’s authorization.

Since the writer is telling the account of who else, biographies are constantly in 3rd person suggest of view and also carry a an ext formal and objective tone 보다 both memoirs and also autobiographies.

Like an autobiography, biographies covering the whole scope of the subject’s life, so that should incorporate details around his or her birthplace, educational background, work-related history, relationships, death and more.

Good biographers will research and also study a person’s life to collection facts and also present the most historically accurate, multi-faceted snapshot of one individual’s experiences as possible. A biography should include intricate details—so in-depth research is essential to for sure accuracy.

“If you’re dealing principally v historical numbers who are lengthy dead, there room very few legal problems…if you’re handling a much more sensitive issue…then the lawyers will certainly be crawling all over the story.” – David Margolick in Legal worries with Biographies

However, biographies are still considered an imaginative nonfiction, for this reason the author has the ability to analyze and interpret occasions in the subject’s life, looking for definition in their actions, uncovering mistakes, addressing mysteries, connecting details, and highlighting the significance of the person's success or life activities.

Authors often organize events in chronological order, but can sometimes organize by themes or certain accomplishments or topics, depending upon their book’s crucial idea.

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Examples of famous biographies incorporate Steve tasks by Walter Isaacson and The Immortal Life the Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot.

Key properties of a biography:

- Written about another person, often a celebrity or public figure, and told in 3rd person allude of view- an ext formal and also objective 보다 both memoirs and also autobiographies- wide in scope or timeline, frequently covering the subject’s whole life approximately the present- Focused specifically on facts- calls for meticulous research and also fact-checking come ensure accuracy