It Down On Paper!
all heard the advice, once you start researching your family history,
“Write a book about what you know?” If not, give it some thought –
don’t the very best stories often come from life? So, what’s
stopping you from writing your own story about your family history?
Memoirs are superior
alternatives and valuable additions to scrapbooks and photo histories.
They also tend to be easier to digest than complex genealogy charts.
Don’t let the scope of a memoir scare you off.
Look at the ideas below, to help you through that first tough
chapter with the following memoir-writing tips:
in terms of length and deadlines. If you lack free time, set aside at
least ten minutes each day. You’ll be surprised at how quickly the
finished pages will pile up.
Ask others to help with the project. Share
what you’re doing with friends and family and see if they can, in some
way, contribute. If nothing else, their collective excitement will feed
your own enthusiasm. As with all research always double-check your
expect to create a best seller. Few of us are capable of writing a great
novel. But that’s not what you’re trying to do. You may be limited
by capability, but your history is important – don’t let a lack of
skill keep you from setting down your history on paper.
picking a focus for your memoir. Do you want to write about one person
or several generations? Do you want to spill into the present, or stick
mostly to the past?
The next step is to choose an appropriate format. Do you want
a lengthy narrative, or something short and simple?
Collect Your Information
your information by talking to relatives. Ask them questions about
homes, neighbours, family traditions, education, employment and life
events – anything that will lead to a story. Be sure to document all
your sources for future reference.
Fill in the gaps with history –
especially if you’ve chosen the novel format. Giving your story an
historical context will add richness to your memoir.
Organize Your Information
Once you’ve completed your research,
organize your notes into an outline - by chronology of life events,
marriages, employment, etc. This outline will serve as the skeleton of
an outline is a timeline. A timeline is helpful when working with dates,
historical facts, and specific life events. Organize your timeline like
an outline, just include the actual dates – and be sure to keep those
dates in order. Refer back to your timeline to ensure you don’t get
events out of sequence.
Write It All Up
Develop your own style. Don’t try to copy
essentials handy – namely a dictionary, thesaurus, atlas and the
Internet. A book on ‘Old Handwriting’ will help when reading old
afraid to ask for a second pair of eyes. Choose someone you trust to
give you honest feedback. Someone with a background in writing is a
Share Your Story
Once you’ve finished your memoir, be sure
to show it off.
yourself. If you can afford to, you may want to pay a company to print
your family’s history for you. Or, just go to a copy shop and have
them print and bind your memoir like a book.
your family’s resources to distribute your memoir. Publish your memoir
in a family newsletter. You can also publish it serial-style on your
family’s website. See
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