The Idea of Home: Autobiographical Essays


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Why Write Your Autobiography

Highlight the best parts when you can. If you live in a big city, for instance, you should realize that many people who grew up in the country have never ridden a subway, walked to school, ridden in a taxi, or walked to a store a few blocks away. On the other hand, if you grew up in the country you should consider that many people who grew up in the suburbs or inner city have never eaten food straight from a garden, camped in their backyards, fed chickens on a working farm, watched their parents canning food, or been to a county fair or a small-town festival.

Something about your childhood will always seem unique to others. You just have to step outside your life for a moment and address the readers as if they knew nothing about your region and culture. Pick moments that will best illustrate the goal of your narrative, and symbolism within your life. Your culture is your overall way of life , including the customs that come from your family's values and beliefs.

Culture includes the holidays you observe, the customs you practice, the foods you eat, the clothes you wear, the games you play, the special phrases you use, the language you speak, and the rituals you practice. As you write your autobiography, think about the ways that your family celebrated or observed certain days, events, and months, and tell your audience about special moments. Consider these questions:. Think honestly about your experiences, too.

Hilton C. Buley Library

Don't just focus on the best parts of your memories; think about the details within those times. While Christmas morning may be a magical memory, you might also consider the scene around you. Include details like your mother making breakfast, your father spilling his coffee, someone upset over relatives coming into town, and other small details like that.

Understanding the full experience of positives and negatives helps you paint a better picture for the reader and lead to a stronger and more interesting narrative. Learn to tie together all the interesting elements of your life story and craft them into an engaging essay. What was the most interesting thing you came up with in your research? Was it the history of your family and your region?


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Here is an example of how you can turn that into a theme :. A little bit of research can make your own personal story come to life as a part of history, and historical details can help a reader better understand your unique situation. You also can take an ordinary day in your life and turn it into a theme.

What to Consider Before You Start to Write

Think about the routines you followed as a child and as an adult. Writing to grow : keeping a personal-professional journal. Writing with passion : life stories, multiple genres. Here are some books in our library on the subject of biography:. The art of literary biography. The biographer's craft. Literary biography : an introduction. Mapping lives : the uses of biography. The nature of biography. Reflections on biography.

The idea of home : autobiographical essays, John Hughes

Telling lives, the biographer's art. Ultimately fiction : design in modern American literary biography. Whole lives : shapers of modern biography. Writing the lives of writers. Hilton C. Together, they cited information from 24 references. Categories: Featured Articles Essays Autobiographies. This article has over , views, and 32 testimonials from our readers, earning it our reader-approved status.

Learn more Choose a story that you really want to tell or that you just want to get out of your system. One of the best ways to write a good story is to choose a story that you really care about telling. Remember, you will need to write about a specific aspect of your life, not your entire life. The story of your entire life could fill the pages of a book.

Instead, choose a topic that you can discuss in a detailed way over the course of your essay. Define your purpose for writing. Think about what you want to accomplish with your autobiographical essay. Why do you want to tell this story? What do you hope to accomplish by telling this story? If the application includes a prompt or question that you need to answer, make sure that the story you intend to tell will respond to this prompt or question. If you are writing an autobiographical essay for a class, make sure that you read the assignment guidelines well. Make sure that the story you intend to tell will work for this assignment.


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Ask your instructor if you have any questions about the assignment. Consider your audience. Think about who will be reading your autobiographical essay. Consider the needs and expectations of your readers before you begin writing.

The Idea of Home : Autobiographical Essays

Jot down some of the things that you will need to keep in mind about your readers as you write your autobiographical essay. If you are writing your essay for a class assignment, consider what your instructor will expect you to include in your essay. Generate ideas for your autobiography. Before you begin writing your essay, you should take some time to flesh out your ideas and get some things down on paper.

Invention activities like listing, freewriting, clustering, and questioning can help you to develop ideas. List the ideas that you have for your autobiography and then look over the list you have made and group similar ideas together. Expand those lists by adding more ideas or by using another prewriting activity. Write nonstop for about 10 minutes.

Review what you have written. Highlight or underline the most useful information for your autobiography. Repeat the freewriting exercise using the passages you underlined as a starting point. You can repeat this exercise many times to continue to refine and develop your ideas.


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Write a brief explanation of the subject of your autobiography on the center of a piece of paper and circle it. Then draw three or more lines extending from the circle. Write a corresponding idea at the end of each of these lines. Continue developing your cluster until you have explored as many connections as you can. Respond to each question in as much detail as you can. Make an outline. Once you have gotten some of your ideas on paper, organize those ideas into an outline before you begin drafting your essay.

You can Write an Essay Outline to plan out your whole essay, develop more ideas, and figure out if you have forgotten anything. Write in the first person. Use the first person perspective I, me, my, mine when writing your autobiographical essay. You share your own experiences in an autobiographical essay, so use the first person perspective. Begin with an engaging sentence that gets right into your story. Your introduction should immediately begin telling your story. Think about what you will discuss in your essay to help you determine what you should include in your introduction.

Your introduction should also identify the main idea of your autobiographical essay and act as a preview to your story. One way to begin a story is to immediately begin describing something that happened, even if it happened in the middle of your story. Describe the setting. Use vivid details to describe the setting of your autobiography to your readers.

Provide context and background that they will need to understand the rest of your essay. For example, you might start with something like, "I never expected to be as happy as I was on that day. Avoid beginnings that are too general or broad. If you want to include a meaningful quote in your autobiographical essay, it should have something to do with your story. You should talk about what it means to you when you provide it.

Transition from the introduction into your story. After you have introduced your story and hooked your readers, you will need to transition into telling the story. End your introduction with a sentence that will leave your readers excited to continue reading. Tell your story. After you have introduced your story, you will need to tell your readers what happened, step-by-step. Your second paragraph and the ones that follow will depend on where you left off in your introduction.

The Idea of Home: Autobiographical Essays by John Hughes

Make sure that you do not skip over important details that your readers might need or want to know about. Conclude your story. Your conclusion should be memorable and interesting. You should end your story in a way that wraps up your loose ends and provides some reflection on the experience. Include lots of vivid details and dialogue where appropriate. Vivid details and dialogue help bring your story alive for your readers.

The Idea of Home: Autobiographical Essays The Idea of Home: Autobiographical Essays
The Idea of Home: Autobiographical Essays The Idea of Home: Autobiographical Essays
The Idea of Home: Autobiographical Essays The Idea of Home: Autobiographical Essays
The Idea of Home: Autobiographical Essays The Idea of Home: Autobiographical Essays
The Idea of Home: Autobiographical Essays The Idea of Home: Autobiographical Essays
The Idea of Home: Autobiographical Essays The Idea of Home: Autobiographical Essays

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