What genre do these types of Memoirs fall under? "Inspired by true events?" ... Is Semi-Fictional Memoir a "thing"? I definitely don't feel that "fictional autobiography" fits.

I have been writing a lot of short stories that are Memoir-ish, that are based on true events in my life. Because I don't remember every detail, I tried to make some parts of the stories obviously fictional. But, in some stories, it isn't so obvious that parts are fictional. I feel that making it obvious in some stories would be intrusive, and undermine the tone.

I am hoping that applying the proper genre label would be sufficient.

3 Answers 3


From Wikipedia:

Autofiction usually has a protagonist using the author’s name and combines autobiography with fiction. One famous author of autofiction is Margurite Duras.


This is an autobiographical novel, a novel based loosely on your own autobiography, but without guarantees of fidelity to actual events. It's one of the most famous and successful formats. It is generally considered as a sub-genre of the novel, and filed under fiction. Famous autobiographical novels include David Copperfield (Dickens), Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (Joyce), To Kill a Mockingbird (Lee), and Invisible Man (Ellison).


If it isn't long enough for a novel, it still falls under the category autobiographical fiction, which is not the same as "fictional autobiography." The former is fiction inspired by real events, the latter is fiction presented in the form of an autobiography (similar to a mockumentary).

Most publishers don't distinguish between fiction and autobiographical fiction (unless there's a danger someone will sue you for libel!). And most readers who care will assume all your fiction is autobiographical anyway. The general rule of thumb is to not sell something as "non-fiction," "memoir" or "autobiography" unless it's 100% true. Anything less than 100% true is "fiction."


  • +1, Accepted. So, short stories that have some true events from the author's life but greatly improvised, are autobiographical fiction? What would be the disclaimer on that kind of book? Although the stories herein are inspired by true events, the character and actions have been greatly distorted ... ? Commented Jan 24, 2018 at 19:45
  • The safest route is to just bill it as "fiction." There's no requirement to reveal that pieces of it are inspired by reality. Everyone just assumes every writer draws some things from real life, even if they are writing speculative fiction. In fact, many works explicitly include a disclaimer that the writing is FICTION even (or especially) if it is transparently based on real life events. FYI, if you want to "accept" this answer, there is a checkmark you can click. Commented Jan 24, 2018 at 19:51

Inspired by true events

The thing with memoirs is just that: one person's recollection of an event. This naturally brings in omissions, incorrect recollections, and more than a few times, altered perceptions (we tend to remember the best of ourselves).

"Inspired by true events" has a lot of common use (my wife watches only those movies), so I would personally go with that.

  • 2
    Many stories that are billed as "inspired by true events" are a lot more "inspired" than "true".
    – Jay
    Commented Jan 23, 2018 at 16:01
  • @Jay OH yeah! It is a VERY broad net and there is very little policing... Commented Jan 23, 2018 at 18:48
  • 2
    That's really more of a description than a genre, isn't it? Commented Jan 24, 2018 at 18:09

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