Family History Essay

Family History Essay-70
Writing your family history so people will want to read it is not all that difficult.You can write a completely factual account of your family, fully documented, yet as readable as a novel.A simple photocopied booklet shared only with family members or a full-scale, hard-bound book to serve as a reference for other genealogists?

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Rather than printing a transcription of the letter, I just paraphrased it into my own words. You don't need to give us everything you know all at once. Here is a quote from a letter that I used to end a chapter in a family history: Now, be honest. Even if you were late to pick up your kids from school, wouldn't you turn the page for a peek at Grace's answer?

And, of course, in the actual narrative, I inserted a footnote and gave the citation for the letter. So who was the other wise person who thought that a family history had to end when everyone in the story died?

Make documents work for the story, so they become powerful openings, middles, or endings. In writing narrative, some facts might not conveniently work themselves into the story. Part One is the readable narrative family history; Part Two is the reference section of genealogical reports or summaries with all the bare bones facts.

So that's the secret to writing a compelling family history: crafting your facts into a nonfiction narrative, using fiction techniques.

As you read fiction, pay attention to how the author opens the story, how he or she keeps you reading, and how the story ends.

You can apply just about any fiction writing technique to nonfiction writing.Or who thought the story had to have a happy ending? You certainly don't have to kill off your ancestors if you don't want to, nor does everyone have to live happily ever after.You can end the story with your great-grandparents in their old age. After all, tragedies, throughout literary history, stick with us longer and have more of an impact on us.Sharon is also a consulting editor for Newbury Street Press (the publishing imprint of the New England Historic Genealogical Society) and a contract advisor for the National Writers Union.Sharon is a former editor for the NGS News Magazine; Speak!Reel the reader in with an exciting, happy, or tragic event, or a conflict.If you have letters, diaries, or an interesting record, you can open by quoting that source.But remember: You are writing nonfiction, so you have to write your family history within the confines of fact.Here's an opening example: See how I plunged us right into the middle of the story?Even though you'll likely find yourself scrambling to meet them, deadlines force you to complete each stage of your project.The goal here is to get each piece done within a specified time frame. The best way to meet these deadlines is to schedule writing time, just as you would a visit to the doctor or the hairdresser.


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