Understanding Diffrence Between Autobiography and Narrative Form of Writing


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Autobiography and narrative writing seem to confuse the writers alot. In fact, a recent study has shown that students usually mixed up autobiography and narrative writing while doing an assignment.

Autobiography and Narrative Writing: Understanding the Difference

That is the reason, in this guide we will talk about the difference and structure of an autobiography and narrative writing.

What is an Autobiography?

Autobiography means to write your life event, achievements, experiences or incident yourself to let people know about it. An autobiography means the story of an individual’s life written by that person himself. In case of telling story from start to the present time, then it means it is complete autobiography of a person.

What is a Personal or Autobiographical Narrative?

On the other hand, if it is told in the form of events, then it is called personal or autobiographical narrative. Let’s have a brief summary about the characteristics of autobiography for better idea.

Characteristics of an Autobiography

Always keep in mind that autobiography means a story written by that person him/herself.

  • It will actually explain the entire life story of an author from the start till end. There will be complete detail about people, incidents, places and objects that made the author capable of learning lesson.
  • It will be about the time author has encountered. What type of experiences and situations, an author had faced in the past and what actually his/her present life is going through?

There are different types of autobiographical writings. It is all based on what you want to write and on which point, you want to focus more. Below, we will talk about different structures one can follow while writing an autobiography.

Different Structures of an Autobiography

Autobiography has different structures to it, we are going to take a detailed look at all of them.

Complete Autobiography

If you are popular and want people to know about your life story, then you can write a complete autobiography. You can cover all the events, circumstances, people and things in your writing you have seen from your birth till present time. For this, you need to think deeply about all the previous things that made you who you are currently. It will also help you to find out the real meaning of your life. In this way, you will tell people about your life, your struggle, your fears, your failures and your achievements.


Well, a memoir is all about a certain time period, relationship, place and people. It is precise in comparison to autobiography. Memoir focuses more on your important phase of your life, instead of telling each and everything about your life from A to Z. It can be about

  • your hometown
  • your loved ones
  • your favorite place
  • relationships you had

A memoir will provide a spiritual point of view to your writing. Memoir can be philosophical as well. Your writing will reflect in a different way, as you will show the world your story from your own eyes. Moreover, it can be historical too by focusing on your life facts or any special event. It can also be about a person who played a great role in changing your life, or your inspiration towards him/her.

Personal Essay

Personal essay is one of the oldest forms of autobiographical writing. The personal essay writing gets started from Plutarch. It is very artistic form of autobiography writing, as it is based on tone and style. Personal Essay writing moves around a particular time period of your life. While writing a personal essay, you have to talk about an aspect of your life by amalgamating it with your ideas, thoughts, experiences, emotions and realizations.

What is Narrative Writing?

On the other hand, narrative means you write a story that you heard about, but does not experiences it personally. In short, that particular incident does not happen to you. It can be a type of imaginative or fiction writing.

Characteristics of Narrative Writing

Narrative writing is all about telling a story. Well, in an autobiographical narrative the story moves around a specific event that changed the way of thinking and life of an author.

  • In narrative writing, the story should be interesting.
  • In narrative writing, the writer writes in an amazing way that amused the reader.
  • In narrative writing, you write about an event, people and thing that you just heard about.
  • Your story should be written in a way that made the reader anxious to see what will happen in future.

Time of Writing Autobiography and Narrative

In autobiography, you can only cover your life events, objectives, achievements, failures and fears in a specific age. Obviously, how you can narrate your story without experiencing that particular thing. On the other hand, narrative writing can be done in any age. You can write a narrative story in the young age, whereas an autobiographical writing can only be done properly in adult age.