by Moushumi Dey

Hi I am a 27 years married working lady; I would like to write an autobiography. I am sure my story will be inspiring for many; but I'm not sure how to start it. Please help!!

Answer: Not to be a downer, but the first question you should ask yourself before writing an autobiography is: "Am I famous?"

Many people (not you necessarily) want to write their autobiography in order to become famous. But generally, this doesn't work. Only the autobiographies of famous people sell, so you have to be famous first.

If you're not famous, your readership will likely be limited to your children and grandchildren. If that's okay with you, then fine. These days it is fairly inexpensive to self-publish a few copies of a book for family and friends.

The other question I have is... Is your career nearing its end? Most often, autobiographies are written after the person has retired, when their greatest achievements are behind them.

Exceptions to this guideline would be...

* if you are writing a memoir of a particular period of your life that has finished.
* if you are someone such as a film or pop star and the period of your greatest fame has ended.

Assuming you have sound reasons for writing an autobiography...

An autobiography is generally structured much like a novel and you should probably work out an outline before you begin. The typical phases are...

Act One: Formative events.
The events in your childhood or youth that shaped the person you became.

Act Two: Early struggles.
The challenges, adventures, early successes, setbacks, etc. on the journey to who you became.

Act Three: Crisis
The events building up to the crucial moment when you had your greatest victory or crowning achievement.

Act Four: Resolution
The later years. How you ended up in life. Your legacy.

You will want to identify the key turning points in your life that led to your biggest triumph and use these as the dividers between acts.

Often the hard part is knowing what not to include. One person's life may contain many stories. You need to find the core thread of your life -- the story you want to tell -- and leave out anything that is irrelevant. This is not easy to do when the life is your own, but it is important to making the story readable.

Best of luck.

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