Hello,Well for me I would have to say that just one of my biggest writing challenges is that English was and still is one of my worst subjects. I have always been an analytically thinker and I tend to write the way I think thus proper writing skills (grammar) goes out the window. I also feel that being an analytically thinker makes it more difficult for me to keep from rambling on to try and show and express what is going through my mind.
This may be an easy fix - get a proof reader. your proof reader could be a family member who have the an aptitude for grammar and can show areas where you may be rambling. I found when writing my dissertation, mind mapping helped me keep on track.
So, write it anyway. A family history will immensely appreciated by your descendents. They will love reading what you wrote about 'their' family. And, the farther down the tree, the more they will enjoy it. If you had a family history written some four hundred (or more) years ago, how likely would you be to criticize their grammar or verbosity? So, get busy, you won't be around forever. ;)
Two things come to mind regarding my efforts. First, I have difficulty getting started...just sticking a flag in the sand and digging in. Perhaps more importantly, I struggle to settle on a defined purpose. I need to decide who I am trying to please with these efforts. Do I write so that every genealogist is thrilled with the details and "proof argument"? Or, do I write with the anticipation of a reader who knows nothing of genealogy and bores easily? I am tempted to write a fiction piece based on the factual historical and genealogical information gathered and starring my ancestors with some liberty in character development. If I include the detailed bibliography with all of the original sources used and let myself have some leniency with conversation and opinions among characters, would that be acceptable as family history writing?
Barb, thank you for your honest reply. First and foremost Barb write for yourself. Unfortunately as family historians we are very single minded in that we think in terms of facts and proof, not a bad thing...but, writing is art. This is where we have a difficult time transitioning from family historian to family history writer. Therefore as the writer/artist you are entitled to express your family history in whatever manner inspires you. Should you decide to write a fictional piece based on your ancestors backed up with a bibliography I say BRAVO! With that being said you can then consider who that audience will be just family, commercial and keep that in mind when writing. Your audience is important, but first and foremost you must address what inspires you, otherwise there will be no heart in your story. We will definitely discuss this very issue in the upcoming challenge. Thanks for sharing.
"Family" and "History" seems to me to be rather self explanatory. Your audience is "Family". "History" is '... just the facts, mam ... as quoted from an old TV detective show. If you decide to write a fictional account, inform everyone that the article is fiction. Passing it off as a true account will certainly confuse future family historians. A family history is your life yesterday and today. Which would you rather read; an account of an ancestor's day to day life four hundred years ago; or a story of an ancestry filled with kings and queens all over Europe?
Having nothing but farmers from one boring parish 1600-1900. Very difficult to be inspired and try make interesting.
I have a story of my mother family, my grandfather, escaping from Russia during the Bolshevik Revolution. The drama and pathos is, well think Dr. Zhivago. The family overcomes one difficulty only to face another, over and over again. I have read Laura Hillenbrand's Unbroken, and my challenge is to write in such a way, that it reads as well as Unbroken does, or Killing Lincoln does.
I hope it's not too late to mention this, as it's months later - but I'm thinking of writing a series of essays/short stories on a specific event in the lives of some of my ancestors ie: a murder investigation, headline news divorce, a sad suicide, a bankruptcy. I would like to put it together for my family hopefully by christmas 2014 - so only read by family. Specifically - I would love to learn more about writing essays/short stories.
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