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A Bare Bones Autobiography Outline

This simple bare bones autobiography outline template uses two key failures and a success, the classic three-act dramatic structure that has enthralled theatre-going audiences for centuries. It is meant as a quick and practical choice for beginning an autobiography or teaching about traditional autobiographical structure.

  1. Focal Point of your autobiography : The driving force in my life has been my need to:


  2. (Introductory setup leading to goal) The first evidence of this need can be traced back to when I decided to:


  3. (First major life turning point) My first attempt to achieve this goal failed when I:


  4. (Complications)This resulted in the following success or failure:


  5. (Complications)That success or failure caused me to:


  6. (Complications)The next major hurdle I faced was when:


  7. (Point when all seems well but can't last) As a result of that, I (a) changed direction completely/(b) was encouraged by my success to:


  8. (Second, and most difficult major life turning point) The most difficult time in my life, and perhaps the biggest hurdle to my success/happiness was when:


  9. As a result of that setback, I chose to:


  10. (Climax)It is this choice, more than anything else, that has led to my success today:


  11. (Wrap up)Looking at myself today, I'm happy to have achieved what I wanted/more than what I wanted/something I didn't know I wanted until I found it:


Each of these categories acts as rough chapter divider to provide traditional structure, focus, and movement to your autobiography. Now look at the professional autobiographies below for ideas about what to include in each section.

I favour autobiographies that utilize very short scenes, such as in Gandhi An Autobiography , and Autobiography of a Fat Bride, but the chapter style books illustrate the basic narrative structure suggested above. Each of these books has a "look inside" button that will allow you to see the table of contents (note that a table of contents is really a detailed autobiography outline):

Gandhi An Autobiography: The Story of My Experiments With Truth

Autobiography of a Face

From A Name to A Number: A Holocaust Survivor's Autobiography

Autobiography of a Fat Bride: True Tales of a Pretend Adulthood

The Measure of a Man: A Spiritual Autobiography (Oprah's Book Club)

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Article: A Bare Bones Autobiography Outline.
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