What are some interesting ways to start an autobiography?

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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There are a number of ways to begin an autobiography after initially glancing through old photos and igniting your memory; you can begin with a significant incident that has profoundly affected your life; you can make an observation; you can begin with a quote that connects to your life experiences; you can begin with a humorous anecdote; or a short vignette that connects to something in your life. Or you can mention a quote such as that which opens the narrative of Tolstoy's Anna Karenina:

Happy families are alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.

Or you can extract something from Thomas Wolfe's famous quote about not being able to turn back the clock in his book You Can't Go Home Again:

You can't go back home again....You can't go back to your family, back home to your childhood ... back home to a young man's dreams of glory and of fame ... back home to the old forms and systems of things which once seemed everlasting but which are changing all the time – back home to the escapes of Time and Memory.

Or, perhaps, you could humorously allude to Robert Fulghum's piece, All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten. e.g.:

When you go out into the world, it is best to hold hands and stick together.

There is also the decision about the tone you wish to use; that is, your attitude about the experiences that you will recount in your autobiography may be poignant, nostalgic, rueful, solemn, or satirical. Depending upon the tone you decide upon, you can choose a pivotal incident that affected you and determined certain actions after it. 

For example, there may have been some vacation, camp that you went to,a meeting, new job, new school, etc. where you had a experience that altered your thinking forever and gave you new direction. Or, perhaps, something which brought you back to your basic values.

There I was, sitting beside my ------at --------, but somehow I knew this place had altered me forever. In fact, it was...

When I heard my name called---

I always felt that someday ----- 

Sometimes life is like a dream, but you cannot wake up, at least for a while-----

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