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How do write an epilogue for an autobiography?

I am wondering how to write it. Here is an outline of how my teacher wants us to do:

Imagine that a complete stranger just picked up this portfolio. The stranger reads it from cover to cover. How would this stranger see the author? What kind of person appears to have filled these pages? Write a character sketch of the person captured in these pages from an outsider's point of view. Refer to specific pieces of writing to support the strangers impression of the author (you, of course).

I can't think of how to start it and I'm not a very creative writer either. Help? Thanks!

Comments

An epilogue is essentially a wrap-up of the story preceding it, used to reveal the fates of the characters - in this case, you. Write about how your life has impacted who you are now. For instance, did your early bad grades make you a better student? What caused that, your own motivation or your parents' disapproval? Touch on each of the main themes in your autobiography and keep it relevant to your overall story.

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4 Answers

Hi, Anne.  I would brainstorm a list of themes that run through your autobiography and/or life.  What lessons have you learned?  What mistakes have you made?  What have been your successes?  What qualities do you have and how have you changed over time?

Frame your epilogue around these central ideas.  You could even get creative and write it as if you were someone famous - maybe somebody who is a lot like you - and talk about how you (this famous person) can relate to the story of you (the author of the autobiography/yourself).  Make sure you note somewhere in the epilogue who this famous person is so that your teacher "gets" it.

These are just some ideas to get you started.  I hope they help!

Comments

One more thing...  See if you can find an epilogue (or prologue) for an existing autobiography or biography.  It might give you a better idea of how to write it.

Greetings!

I understand your question in more of a philosophical sense. The issue that I see arising from it is due to the concept of genre. Even autobiographies have genre (e.g., historical, memoir, etc.). Assuming it is fiction, I have this concept from Anne Lamott: #&@!$y first draft. (Yes, in her book, she call it just that.) For example, I drew from this when I wrote in my blog about thinking of something just writing like crazy.

At this point, my major concern is that you are trying to restrict yourself to being perfect. Instead take the imperfections and just write them on paper. Once you are done after about a half hour of writing, set it to the side and come back in a couple of hours.

Notice all the ideas you had for the epilogue? Now you can start rapping up the story line.

This time you give clarity to the situation of your characters while allowing the reader to engage with their mysterious concepts.

The same principle applies with autobiography as well.

I hope that this helps.

 

Literature Critic from University of Central Florida

This is not an easy question to answer because not everyone will come to the same conclusion. A prime example is how a Jungian and a Freudian will interpret a particular scenario? Both may watch the scenario at the exact same time, but may relate to it in a different way from one another ...thus arriving at a different conclusion.     

I would suggest (as previously noted) to highlight the milestones in this person's life.  Keep it short and sweet. Do not drag it out.

Well Anne, that is a very abstract question - we can't see the ms. Thus who can answer?   I would make some other assumptiion than a complete stranger; at least they are now a reader, and if they write a review/epilogue they become a writer...

We only know the author's  character from the specifics of what they wrote... 

Assuming it was more or less chronological, go back to their youth and see how their character developed via certain incidents. I know an 8O-y.o. Polish woman here who could tell tales of horror in WW2 but they only made her stronger; her mother died when she was 7; her father was off to the war; she was alone from siblings and lived 3 years in an orphanage, etc. She has a great imagination b/c that was all she had. Character is the tempering we get between the anvils and the forges of life.

I  hope this helps; at least you got one reply.

NF writer from Seattle, Fred