all heard the advice, “Write 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 biography? Or even better, your family’s history?
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.
www.Ancestry.co.uk is here to help you through that first tough
chapter with the following memoir-writing tips:
reasonable goals in terms of length and deadlines. If you lack free time,
set aside at least five minutes each day. You’ll be surprised at how quickly
the finished pages will pile up.
others into the project. Share what you’re doing with friends and family and
see if they can somehow contribute. If nothing else, their collective
excitement will feed your own enthusiasm.
expect to create an epic. But that’s not what you’re setting out 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.
What You Want
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?
step is to choose an appropriate format. Do you want a lengthy narrative, or
something short and simple? The formats you may want to consider include
third-person biography, first-person memoir, family profiles, or
your information by interviewing relatives. Ask them questions about homes,
neighbours, family traditions, education, employment, and life events –
anything that will lead to juicy stories. Be sure to document all your
sources for future reference.
the gaps with history – especially if you’ve chosen the novel format. Giving
your story an historical context will add richness to your memoir.
14-Day Free Trial to
www.Ancestry.co.uk to gain access to other research tools, like census
data, and parish records.
Organise Your Information
you’ve completed your research, organise your notes into an outline -- by
chronology of life events, marriages, employment, etc. This outline will
serve as the skeleton of your story.
an outline is a timeline. A timeline is helpful when working with dates,
historical facts, and specific life events. Organise your timeline like an
outline, just include the actual dates – and be sure to keep those dates in
It All Up
your own style. Don’t try to duplicate anyone else. Often, mimicking some
grand masterpiece will make your own writing appear dangerously pretentious.
essentials handy – namely a dictionary, thesaurus, atlas, style guide and of
course, the Internet.
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 plus.
what you’ve done
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.
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. Remember that
www.Ancestry.co.uk can help you design a custom website from scratch.