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Writing a non-boring family history

Here is your sneak peek to an upcoming article from Traces Edition 9. ‘Writing a non-boring family history’ written by Hazel Edwards dives into the world of uncovering your ancestor’s history and turning it into a piece of compelling writing.

Have you discovered something captivating in your family history?

Have you thought about sharing it?

Researching your family history has currently exceeded stamp-collecting as the hobby of choice internationally. Many choose to investigate their history through examining letters, facts, stories and memorabilia – all in an effort to preserve their history and continue it on for future generations.

Once this information is unearthed, the process often stops there. But why should it? Many family historians never set out to create a piece of literature but realised the compelling nature of their ancestor’s history and documented it.

Author Hazel Edwards has some tips on turning your findings into a non-boring piece of writing.

Consider your reader

Identifying your prospective reader will allow you to gauge the direction or tone of the book. Avoiding chronological boredom is essential, as the storyline needs to engage the potential audience. Analyse whether the story will gather insight into the particular era or engage emotionally with the reader.

Feature the conflict

The book needs to have a climactic element to the storyline, in order to distance itself from a chronological boredom. Distinguish whether your story has one of these three elements of conflict: within the individual, between individuals, or between the individual and society.

Identify the theme

Apart from sharing the history of your ancestors, an overarching theme needs to be established. What is the subject that you as a writer are attempting to convey? Is there an insight that is learnt from reading the story? By identifying the theme and relating it to the plot, characters and conflicts, the story will have a flow and purpose.

Want more tips on how to make your family history non-boring? You can continue along with the article in the newest edition of Traces, which is out mid-December.

Pictured: Tom Merton iStock: 173069728

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