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What Type of Family History Do You Plan to Write?

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#41 [url]

Jan 29 13 5:52 AM

That's fantastic Bettyann. And yes, you would be surprised how you can reshape those facts and documents into stories. I find narratives the easy way to enter into the world of family history writing. And I'm thrilled your doing blog-to-book. I haven't posted since before Christmas but we will get back to it after the Challenge. I'll be sure to check out your posts. 

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#42 [url]

Jan 29 13 8:22 AM

I'm attempting to write the story of my maternal grandparents' ancestors. I've picked a title - Worth Crossing The Atlantic. My goal here would be to finish at least a good draft of 4 of the family lines, 1 a week.  If I get further than that, great.

Connie from WV stuck here in Florida

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#43 [url]

Jan 30 13 2:19 AM

Last year I created one of my first “lists” on the State Library of Australia TROVE  website entitled Ebbott,John (Junior) bornCornwall, son of John Ebbott & Sarah Bone itnow contains 250 items arising from Australian newspapers and other resourcesthat I have linked in.Cheers Sandra


Accidentally put a thumbs down to your post - supposed to be a thumbs up!  Sorry.


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#44 [url]

Feb 3 13 2:51 PM

Hi Lynn and everyone!
I am into my 7th year of writing a family history book. It started out as a nonfiction book, changed to creative nonfiction and morphed into historical fiction a year ago. The book is based on a cattle rustling story in Colorado. You can read more about it, if you are interested, on my blog
I've written the first chapter a million times. Finally have the voice I'm looking for in it. The protagonist is a widow who's husband was hanged. I've been stuck on chapter 2 forever because it switches POV to my great-great-uncle, the hanged man's cattle partner. Writing fiction is new to me and I'm learning as I go.
This challenge seemed to be good timing for me to pick a word count goal and stick with it for a month. My goal is 500 words a day. Thank you for doing this Lynn! Sorry I jumped in late, but I wanted to make sure I could commit before I signed up.

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#45 [url]

Feb 4 13 8:33 AM

I would like to write a book for my granchildren. I thought I would start out with Chapter 1 about my life as I grew up.  I want to divide the chapters into sub-chapters, such as, toddler years to young childhood (how we moved from New York to Florida in the 50's), teenage years, young adult, dating to marriage, life as a mother, hardships, etc.  I wanted to bring into this with pictures of what it was like to grow up in the 50's, music of the time, school, our telephone system, my memories of wash day with my mom.  I think my grandchildren would get a charge out of grandchildren do not know what a crank on a car would be to roll the windows up on a car....they only know about buttons to push to automatically roll the windows up.  Everything is so automated for them today.  Then I will move into other chapters for my parents, grandparents, etc.  I know this will be quite a project, but I would love to do this.  Any suggestions on this?  I have started a few pages but have not submitted anything yet.


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#47 [url]

Feb 4 13 2:05 PM

Renee, I started out writing for the grandchildren and ended up doing a scrapbook with not only my life but historic events and pictures from magazines and off the web, i.e., Kennedy's assassination, 9-11, Katrina hurricane.  I switched to a family memoir, but the time period covered is only up to the 1960s.  I love the idea of leaving a narrative for the grandchildren.  It will be a family legacy.

Bettyann Schmidt rhinegirl.blogspot.cim

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#48 [url]

Feb 4 13 6:09 PM

For Christmas, I gave all of my family a 2013 family history calendar I created in Shutterfly.  Each month features a collage of family groups, grandparents, g-grands, and ends with December's photo of all the grandchildren, the "Next Generation".  On January 1, I invited them all to my new blog,  MeanderingThrough the History, Stories, Photos, & News of the Davis, Duncan, McNeill, and McElvain Families.   
I hope this challenge will help keep me get ahead on my posts, and my writing will be richer, and worth my readers time and attention.
Thanks so very much!  Love the daily doses!

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#49 [url]

Feb 4 13 6:37 PM

Thank you for leaving a comment on my blog, Bettyann! It has taken several weeks for me to settle in, but I think that creating space and energy to write are making a difference. I am starting to get into the story world in a way I haven't in a long time. I am looking at other things in my life I need to say "no" to that are taking me out of it at times.

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#50 [url]

Feb 5 13 5:36 AM

I think I'm going to divide each family section in my history - one giving the genealogy and facts and the other with the stories. I just can't seem to get enough information in a narrative style to suit me.

Connie from WV stuck here in Florida

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#51 [url]

Feb 5 13 6:04 AM

@mjdm, what a wonderful idea. I create a yearly family calendar but it is more of a recap of the last year. Love the idea of making it family history related. Loved that you peaked their interest with the calendar and then followed up with an invite to your blog. Nicely  done! 

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#52 [url]

Feb 6 13 7:56 AM

I plan to write a family history/bio with my paternal grandfather as the central character. I had actually come up with this idea a couple of weeks ago, and then came across the challenge on Feb 1. Perfect timing! My goal is to complete a rough draft for the challenge and to publish it in time to give to my father (86 yo) for Fathers Day this year. Is it doable?  I don't know, never did anything like this before, and I have lot's of research to do as well.  Appreciate the challenge and all the great info everyone has been sharing. I'm hoping to write 250 words a day and am at almost 2,000 now.


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#54 [url]

Feb 7 13 9:02 AM

Lynn and All,

My post telling what type book I'm planning is on the first page and was posted, I think, on January 20th.

In it, I mentioned what my 2 biggest challenges or obstacles are. I was hoping that you or some of the others taking the challenge might address these 2 issues and give me some suggestions on how I can improve these chapters of my book.



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#55 [url]

Feb 7 13 2:48 PM

Debbie I looked back and found what you posted

"My biggest challenges so far are:
1.ancestors and relatives that I have limited info on.
2. I have a couple of decades that I don't have much of a story for.  Those chapters mostly contain who got married, who was born, who died and where everyone lived."

1.  Most of my ancestors I have very little info on.  When I started, the only info I had was on my paternal grandmother, basically her maiden name, and the stories I had of her because of my personal relationship.  Then I began to find documents on, her marriage license, the census, city directories.  Little by Little.  I'm using basically world history and local history to write this narrative of the rest of the ancestors I know basically nothing about other than where they lived in the census and directory records, when their children were born, jobs they worked at, etc.  It's not easy, but the more you write what you "imagined" your ancestors lived through, the easier it gets.

2.  I've also got times when there are no records, and I have no idea where my ancestors have  gone.  I wrote exactly that.  "In the 1930 census and city directory, Joseph and Maria are nowhere to be found.  We can only guess what happens to ancestors when they go missing.  The next record on them...."  Then I write about the things going on in the world and the city during that time.  It was the beginning of the depression.  People lost jobs, sometime they lived with relatives and shared expenses.  They may not have been listed on the census.  

Hope this helps a bit.  I think this is the hardest thing, to reconstruct an ancestor's life with no actual knowledge of where they were or what they were doing.  No written journals left or even relatives' stories.  

Bettyann Schmidt rhinegirl.blogspot.cim

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#56 [url]

Feb 8 13 9:40 AM

Hi Renee
I think your idea is wonderful, and so few us sit down to write our own stories and record them for our children and for future generations. So I think your starting in the right place. It is a big project but break it down into manageable chunks. Starting with your life and memories is a great place to start. Have you been keeping a journal. This is a great way to jot down memories and thoughts when they come to you in between those writing times. You're off to a great start! 

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#57 [url]

Feb 8 13 9:50 AM

@decarder2 I took a look back at your post as well. You said you want to write a novel style book. You need to decide the voice, will you be the narrator? Or from a third person perspective? In order for it to be novel like you need to consider having summaries and scenes. There is a newsletter coming addressing this aspect. Alternating between the two will put us in the story show us action. Now if you don't have enough research you may find this difficult, especially if you're trying to write an all encompassing family history. Consider pulling out a part of your family history that you know you have some good research and lots to draw on and try writing just that portion of your history. Sometimes we try to take on too much. Focus in ona smaller more manageable piece to start with and you might find it a little less overwhelming. Keep me posted. Lynn 

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#58 [url]

Feb 10 13 6:43 AM

Anita, I hesitate to disagree with Lynn but I think if we write histories/genealogies rather than fiction, footnotes are very important. I do no think my footnotes take away from the history I am writing. I think they add to it. My readers know I did not just imagine Thomas Mark's involvement in the Civil War. They know I researched it and are astounded at the details I could uncover. When I wrote 'The Mark Family Story' I had some paragraphs filled with footnotes. I also had, near the end of the book, Works Cited with a bibliography for each chapter. I also had an appendix with photocopies of an assortment of documents and letters.
Readers want to know when we are speculating at how life may have been & when we have uncovered facts.
When I find family trees on that have no sources I know they have no value. They just copied from someone else. Genealogy must begin with facts or it is fiction.

Hope I am not upsetting the apple cart with these thoughts. Colleen

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#59 [url]

Feb 10 13 10:33 AM

Colleen, no apple cart upset here. Let me clarify. If you are writing histories/genealogies I completely support footnotes, end of story.  However, I recognize that some people wish to write their family histories in a more novel like format free of footnotes. Sometimes because they want it to be a commercial work or they believe it will be more engaged by their families. I recommend as I have seen done in may works a list of sources at the end of each chapter to capture the support for your story and lead your readers to those sources as an option. I'm not trying to deter anyone away from citing sources or using footnotes. I only want writers to understand that we can write our stories in a number of formats and still know it based on fact and not fiction. However, if you want to write fiction based on fact that is an option as well we just have to be clear about it. I have also seen family historians write a completely cited geneaIogies and then turn around and write their stories in more story-like format to capture a different reader. I want readers to understand all the options and choose their choice wisely and based on their readers and their goals. 

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#60 [url]

Feb 10 13 11:26 AM

Just to be a little more specific, your sources at the end of the chapters or your book can take the format of either an endnote or blind citations both are a little less intrusive then a footnote.  

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