Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Telling Your Family's Story

Family stories make great memoirs or even historic fiction. There is rich information in the ancestry of practically everyone. Stories of loss, hope, love, victory, struggle, unity, success, and more tug at the heartstrings of readers and give you, the author, a better understanding of your family’s past. For family history researchers and genealogists, or even for those who have collected a wealth of family lore over the years, the stories of ancestors provide an insight into their lives, the period in which they lived, and sometimes, an understanding of life today.

But how do you know when you’re ready to write your family’s story? It can be difficult for family history researchers to know when the time is right to tell a family’s story. For those with a desire to tell their family’s stories, there is a way to know when you’re ready, and there are methods to help build the story once you get started. 

This is what I will share with the audience this Friday, November 11th at the Georgia Family History Expo. I will present a session titled, “Write Your Life: How to Turn Your Research Into a Compelling Book.” Here’s a peek at what I’ll cover:

You know it’s time to write your family history story when:
  • You can’t stand NOT to write it
  • The characters (your ancestors) “haunt” you in your sleep and while awake
  • You imagine experiences your ancestors might have had
  • You create endings to stories of which you know only certain information
  • You think about the characters and the story all the time
  • You talk about the characters and the story all the time
This is the point at which you gather your research notes and begin writing. There is a method to crafting a story so that you tell the important parts, guide the reader through the story in a meaningful way, and share the moral or lessons you intend.

Here are some steps to get started telling your family’s story, because after all, getting started can often be the hardest part:
  • Decide what story you want to tell ... and stay committed to THAT story. 
  • Consider which story resonates most with you (characters, circumstances, outcome).
  • Get out of reseracher mode (for a time). Otherwise, you’ll keep finding information to add to the story and you’ll never get it done. This is what I call the “one more thing” crutch.
  • Decide on the genre (subgenre): fiction (drama, romance, mystery, paranormal/mystical); or non-fiction (memoir, autobiography, biography, spiritual, inspirational, how-to, self-help).
  • Define the theme ... keep the main thing the main thing. Here, you get down to the least common demominator of your story.
Attend the Georgia Family History Expo to learn more tips that I'll share with the audience! I hope to see you there on Friday, November 11th. I will also be blogging from the expo, so if you attend and have a story to tell, stop by the bloggers area; I’d love to speak with you. And if you can’t attend, visit this blog during the two-day expo to experience the event through my eyes.

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