By BWC Team in 2023

Writing a book about your life story is a great way to share experiences and leave a lasting legacy for future generations. However, it is important to understand the difference between an autobiography and a memoir before starting. Although they both tell factual experiences about a single person, memoirs and autobiographies differ in their plots and architecture. An autobiography covers a larger territory and presents the subject's life in chronological order, whereas a memoir usually concentrates on a single theme or facet of the subject's life.

What Is A Memoir?

Memoir, derived from the French word "memory," is a nonfiction, subjective narrative that narrates the author's memories of a specific period in their life, focusing on emotional truth but not fact-checking, and capturing their personal experiences.

Memoirs usually fit under one of the following categories:

Resolving Conflict: the writer concentrates on a single issue and how it impacted their lives.

Subject: the author includes only recollections that relate to a single subject.

Chronological: the author describes their experiences in the chronological sequence that they occurred.

Flashbacks: to give background information, the author alternates between the past and the present.

Confessional Memoirs This memoir showcases how individuals made changes and amends to correct mistakes, highlighting how their journey has made them a better person.
Personal Memoirs This memoir is a popular type of writing that provides a glimpse into a specific event in a writer's life.
Professional Memoirs This memoir is a reflection on the writer's professional life, aiming to share their experiences and insights.
Public Memoirs Public memoirs are for the ones who are almost out there in the ‘public eye,’ such as celebrities. This type of memoir lets the reader get a better idea about the writer in a more personal way than what a public lens might show.
Transformational Memoirs This is one of the most common types out there. It focuses on how an event, experience etc helped shape or transform a writer.
Travel Memoirs This memoir explores the challenges or difficulties the writer may have faced and overcome through his personal adventures.

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What Is An Autobiography?

An autobiographical account is a personal narrative by a prominent figure, detailing their life, family history, relationships, education, and career, originating from the Greek words "auto" and "graphy," meaning "self-writing. Autobiographies can serve various purposes, including expressing political views or spiritual beliefs, promoting products, services, or ideas, and can be written in the first person. The author’s perspective is often a direct reflection of his or her own experiences.

The chronological format of most memoirs looks like this:

Basis: Early life, relatives, neighborhood, house, school, friendships, and family customs

Adversity: Turning points that result in accomplishments in life

Conclusion: Takeaways from overcoming or embracing hardship

Types Of Autobiographies

Following table interprets different types of autobiographies:

Thematic The main goal of the writer here is to present information in a much exciting way. The subject’s life is not the focus in thematic autobiography.
Intellectual This type is an exploration of the writer’s deepest thoughts and how they have changed over time. The journey has shaped the author into who he is now.
Fictional This is known to be one of the most common types of autobiography. This is where the author's experiences are changed to keep their identity anonymous.
Religious Here, the author relates his apparent connection to god where many people can relate to it in a spiritual sense.

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Major Differences Between Memoirs and Autobiographies

Following key pointers relates to the differences between a memoir and an autobiography. Let’s keep going on to get a better and clearer idea:


Memoir: Memoirs have a larger market due to their ability to cater to a wider audience, as they often focus on universal themes, sharing a person's experiences.

Autobiography: Autobiographies are niche, often attracting only those interested in the author's business or achievements, with some exceptions.


Memoir: Memoirs are written to share an author's ideas, reflections, or insights on a specific theme or time, often aiming to convey enlightenment or emotional truth through their personal experiences.

Autobiography: are educational documents that detail an author's life, achievements, and legacy, with factual accuracy being a key focus.


Memoir: Memoirs offer creative freedom, flexibility, and the ability to use flashbacks, anecdotes, and dialogue in their structure, allowing for more expression and interpretation.

Autobiography: Autobiographies tend to be more rigid and factual, often written chronologically, with fewer creative liberties than memoirs.


Memoir: Memoirs are typically written in a narrative or conversational style.

Autobiography: Autobiographies are typically more formal and factual than memoirs.

Memoir Vs Autobiography! Which One Is Better For You?

There are several possibilities open to you if you are thinking of writing about your life and the lessons you have learnt. An autobiography is a more comprehensive description of your life experiences, whereas a memoir is a personal portrayal of your life events. The primary distinction between the two, though, is that an autobiography aims to provide the reader a truer picture of the author's life, whereas a memoir shares the author's experiences and serves as an example for others.

Though many people mix up autobiographies and memoirs, you have to choose the one that best describes you. These subgenres can assist you in increasing the exposure of your business and giving your audience further insight into who you are. The subgenre you select will determine how much information you give and how to connect with your audience.

Here are some things to think about asking:

  • Which aspect of the memoir—the emotional truth or other personal messages, or the facts—do you want to emphasize more?
  • Would you rather have the book focus on certain life turning events (memoir) or cover your complete life up to this point (autobiography)?
  • Which method—a more imaginative approach (memoir) or plain facts (autobiography)—will inform your audience?

If you wish to provide readers a detailed description of your life from childhood to the present, an autobiography is more usual. If you take a certain topic from your life and weave it through events as though it were a collection of short stories, then it's a memoir.

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