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Writing a Non-Boring Family History
Publisher: Hale & Iremonger
Media: BOOK - paperback, 144 pages
Author: H. Edwards
Other: rev. ed.
Publisher: Hale & Iremonger
This unique and practical handbook will help you craft the history of your ancestors in an interesting and rewarding way that other people will want to read.
Hazel Edwards addresses the vital issues of how to:
- interview elderly relatives and people close to the family
- use anecdotes and record memories
- do justice to intriguing ancestors
- structure the drama and tension
- inject life into a name on a shipping list
- present the family's secrets diplomatically
This revised edition acknowledges e-formats that writers use, includes helpful tips on how to write for children or write a eulogy, and covers the growing interest in touring military battlefields and researching onsite material.
Recipe for writing a non-boring family history
Part 1. Pre-history
1. Why are you writing this history?
- Common reasons, excuses and imperatives
- Dealing with procrastination
2. Who are your readers?
3. Increasing the potential readership
- How to increase the potential readers by 'angling' the material
4. Is this going to be 'fun' or a 'drain'?
5. What is your deadline?
6. Do you have any co-writers or collaborators?
- What will their contribution be?
- Characteristics of unsuccessful collaborations
- When is collaboration worthwhile?
7. What will it cost and who will pay?
8. Is a brief needed?
9. Any controversial bits
10. Fact, Faction of Fiction?
11. Commercial publishing, self-publishing or some other form
- Commercial publication
- Vanity publishing
- What will the limits of the history? Dates? Families? Which one?
12. What format will the history take?
- How much is enough?
- First-hand interviews. Secondary sources. Inherited paraphernalia and how best to check and use it
Part 2. Making it non-boring
1. How to shape your story
- Historical detective
- Letters and photographs
2. How to describe, so readers won't skip over that bit
3. How did they talk then?
4. What if all you've got is a name on a shipping list?
- Villains, rogues and bland 'goodies'
- Character dossier
- Bland 'goodies'
- How not to 'blandise'
5. Should 'I' be there?
7. Choosing titles and subheadings
- Hints for choosing titles
- Shaping a story; more dramatic at the beginning, least dramatic, then second most interesting
9. Which themes are threaded through your story?
- The thematic approach
10. Beginnings, middles and ends
- Creating hooks on the end of chapters
11. Is history just high gossip
13. Controversial bits
14. Time-management survival questionnaire
- Hints for effective interviewing techniques
- Gathering material quickly
Part 3. Finalising
1. Length: how much is enough?
- Parts of a book
- Making cuts
2. Self-publish or not?
- By design or luck? How to find a printer locally
- Internet possibilities
3. The publishing process
4. What an editor will do for you
5. Publicising your book
- The launch
- The blurb
- The biographical note
Part 4. Imaginative approaches
1. Making the telling more engaging
3. Recycling family letters
4. How to write history for kids in non-boring ways
- Challenges in writing for kids
- In conclusion
Part 5. Useful contacts
1. A reminder
2. Addresses and online resources