How to Write an Autobiography in Essay Form

An autobiographical essay explains something significant about yourself.
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High-school English teachers routinely assign five-paragraph essays. A five-paragraph essay starts with an introductory paragraph that ends in a topic statement. The next three paragraphs are considered the "body" of the essay; each one discusses one aspect of the topic statement. The concluding paragraph wraps it all up. An autobiographical essay is simply an autobiography written in the five-paragraph essay form. Writing one is not as daunting a task as it may seem.

Think about your life. What do you want to tell people? What are your goals and future plans? Conversely, if you died tomorrow, what are the things you would want people to know about your life and the way you lived it? How would you like to be remembered? Jot down on a piece of scratch paper all of the answers to these questions that come into your mind. Don't self-edit; just write down everything you think of. You will have the opportunity to edit later.

Try to think of one broad statement that you can make about yourself, and that encompasses much of what is in your notes. It need not incorporate everything, but it should generally reflect the most important things that you wrote about yourself. This statement is your thesis. The thesis appears at the end of the introductory paragraph. At this point, do not worry about writing the entire introduction; it is enough right now that you have a thesis.

Look at your notes and pick out three of the most important things about your life. These three specific things should relate to the thesis--your general statement about you. Write three paragraphs, and begin each one with a sentence about a specific aspect of your life. Use the rest of the paragraph to explain in detail what the concept expressed in that first sentence means to you, and why it is so important in your life. These three paragraphs are the body of your autobiographical essay.

Bear in mind that introductory paragraphs start discussing a subject in general terms and become more specific as they lead up to the topic sentence. Write just such an introductory paragraph. You may begin by speaking about anything you believe to be relevant that will grab your reader's attention; you do not need to start the introductory paragraph talking about yourself. By the end of this paragraph, you should be discussing your own life, culminating in the thesis.

Pull it all together in your head. What conclusion can you state about your life and everything you've just written in your autobiographical essay? A concluding paragraph starts on a specific level and becomes more general toward the end. Write such a conclusion. One effective way to tie up everything in an autobiographical essay is to end the concluding paragraph discussing whatever you started talking about at the beginning of the introductory paragraph.

Survey this first draft of your autobiographical essay. Read through it a few times. Correct any grammar and spelling mistakes, and make your words flow as smoothly as possible. Just as important, make sure you have said what you wanted to say about yourself and your life. Don't be afraid to change things in your autobiographical essay, but keep a record of everything you write. Give yourself the chance to experiment and decide what sounds best.

Samantha Hanly is an organic vegetable gardener, greenhouse gardener and home canner. She grows a substantial portion of her family's food every year. After receiving her bachelor's degree, Hanly embarked on a career teaching dramatic arts, arts and crafts, and languages. She became a professional writer in 2000, writing curricula for use in classrooms and libraries.