An autobiography is the telling of a person's life through his own eyes. Each autobiography has certain characteristics that make the content take the reader deeply into the world of the writer. Autobiographies have a different quality to them because of the deeply personal, inside information the writer is sharing -- something difficult to translate in a biography. Most autobiographies share certain components.
Introduction to the Author
Each author must introduce herself to the reader. Often this occurs in the first chapter of the book. Typically this introduction takes the reader from the present to the past. A writer will say who she is now, and why she chose to write the book. Quickly, she will draw a composite of the signifiers of her life that led her to see it -- that is, her life -- as it is today.
Chronological and Significant Events
The chronological and significant events section makes up the majority of the book. In these chapters, a writer reveals moments in his life that he chose to share as significant or turning points for his story to be told. Sometimes an author will write from a time sequence and make this a strict chronological telling. Some go back and forth through time and tell pieces of stories, then connect those pieces to what they may see as life-changing moments, in order to hold the readers attention.
With each telling of a life event, it is necessary for the writer to reflect on what she is saying. This type of reflective content is what distinguishes the autobiography. It is a personalized perspective that no other person can give but the writer. Often writers telling their story have lived a lesson that they would like to share, sometimes as a cautionary tale. This intimacy between writer and reader is something that drives the content and also legitimizes why the book and its stories were important to write.
Conclusions and Future Implications
As a writer approaches the end of the autobiography, the content often shifts to the future. In examining the content up to that point, readers have been introduced to the writer and have heard the stories and the specific take on their meaning. Now, the writer tells readers what his current life and future desires of are. The writer must wrap up the book in a way that signifies closure to the life experiences he wrote about.