How To Start An Autobiography

What's a good way to start off an autobiography?

Expert Answers
wordprof eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The reader of your life story will want to know three things early in the telling: First, your attitude toward the project, your “raison d’etre,” your motivation for taking on this project. Second, what period (not just the dates) you lived through; scientific/technological advances, political/international milestones, artistic periods, and the like. Third, what you “contributed” during your life; awards, accomplishments, your engagement in the world’s events during “the time of your life” (Saroyan). As a quick example, early in my biography I would state my desire to leave a chronological record for my children; I would mention WWII, the Cold War, and the moon landing (as well as the Beatniks, the Beatles, and Andy Warhol); I would then mention my academic accomplishments in brief.

chrisyhsun | Student

A big part of how to start of any piece of writing is to determine your desired tone. If the autobiography is more formal, then it might go in traditional chronological order (I was born...). However, if you want a more casual tone in the autobiography, I think a good way of starting it would be to begin with a personal story, especially something shocking or surprising. You may have heard English teachers talk about a "hook" as your first sentence in an essay. This story would serve a similar purpose in an autobiography. It draws the audience in and gives readers incentive to read on to find out why/how that story came to happen.

ik9744 | Student

To start off an autobiography, you should include a good chunk of knowledge that explains why you are writing this story. There's an obvious reason you're writing an autobiography so you should let the reader know why. Not just listing it out of the blues. You can write a scene that went on in your life that will absorb the reader in. You should list the achievements that you got through your experience in the story. The accomplishments you made, information about yourself, the time you live in, your childhood, your neighborhood, and your family members. Some other things you could write is the hard task you've experienced, what made you what you are today, and lastly how others effected your outcome. There are plenty of ways to start an autobiography and I personally think it would change most of people's perspective of you yourself. I would pick the most important information you've got and put it somewhere in the beginning letting the reader get to know you more. I wouldn't point something out, just like books doesn't give out the moral/theme by just listing it. Just like any other piece of writing you should have a good starting sentence, in order to hook the reader in. I hope this helps your writing!