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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 provides a quick and practical guide for beginning an autobiography. For teachers, the points work through traditional autobiographical structure.

To start, fill in the blanks below, as an outline of the manuscript. Then fill in the details for your first draft.

  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 or (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: 
  • a) what I wanted: 
  • b) more than what I wanted or: 
  • c) something I didn't know I wanted until I found it:

Each of these categories acts as a rough chapter divider. Develop each section with relevant details  to provide traditional structure, focus, and movement to your autobiography.

For help understanding how to develop each chapter, look at the professional autobiographies below for ideas about what to include in each section. 

I favour the autobiographies that utilize very short scenes, such as in Gandhi An Autobiography , and Autobiography of a Fat Bride, but books with longer chapters better illustrate the structure suggested above.

Each of these books has a "look inside" button that will allow you to see the table of contents. Please note how a table of contents is really a detailed autobiography outline:

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