Sunday, January 24, 2010

Preparation Sunday - Step 6 of 7

Over the spam of seven Sundays, I am sharing with you my approach to preparing your ancestor stories to share with others. Before you can share, of course, you must have them and have them in a form to be useful to share and tell. [ See 13 Ways to Tell Your Ancestor Stories, for doing that]

If you are on Facebook, the 7 Steps of Preparation to TELL YOUR ANCESTOR STORIES are already available by joining the Cause: TELL YOUR ANCESTOR STORIES. I encourage you to join - and participate in the discussions.

The 7 Steps are, very briefly: Ask, Listen, Record, Organize, Research, Write, Share.

Our focus today is on Write, the 6th of the 7 Steps. Actually, as with the first three steps, the last two steps must be done tandem, as well. How and where you decide to share your story may shape what and how you write. What you are prepared to write may help determine how and where you share. So, where to start?

There are many answers to that question, as well, so let me start here. Start simple. Take a story you have heard, organized and researched. Write it in a brief narrative form. Perhaps write it like you would tell it to a friend, or to a new found cousin. This does two things. It prepares a story for oral presentation. You can tell it over and over as it is, and feel comfortable that it is reasonably factual and interesting.

Next, perhaps, edit it to read well as a blog post. It needs to balance substance and brevity... so people will read the whole thing. This may require a stronger lead paragraph, for example. It needs to follow in a logical manner to a conclusion. You may wish to incorporate an image or two. You may want it to end with a question or a call for comments. My blog post on John Butler, my First Irish Ancestor might serve as an example.

Another edit, of essentially the same story/set of facts may be to post on a web page or a newsletter you are preparing about your family. This rendering may include more details. Whereas you may include one or two images with a blog post, for this "write" you may be able to include addition images. You may wish to append a sidebar for related information. You have greater flexibility, as you can see. You may find that you have a story, or report, that could be submitted to a magazine or journal. With the addition of footnotes/endnotes, it might be a piece to submit to an academic journal. As an example of this more expanded story, I will use a series of blog entries by Irish Mason. They are on a blog, but I read them more as chapters of a book or magazine. My link is several posts into the story, but I recommend going to the first about the baby being born, as well, and read more - if they interest you. They did me...  ;-)

On to the next story!  ;-)

When you have enough of these "pieces," these stories, of course, you may be ready to consider publishing them in a book, or otherwise. The possibilities are endless. Enjoy the journey.

Families are Forever!  ;-)


  1. Love the tips you share. I didn't realize these were a series. Now, I have to go back and read and probably print all.

  2. Kathleen,

    You are very kind. Thank you. Hope you like them all. Hope others find them useful, as well.


  3. great advise Bill. Thanks! I tried the link within your post to Facebook and got a 404 Error. :(

  4. Mary,

    It appears to be corrected. Please try again. Thanks for the comment!!


  5. I will go to your link and join! What a great series, very informative. Thank you for sharing!

  6. Very useful Dr. Bill! I try to convert my genealogy text in a blog-friendly format as much as possible. For example, instead of formatting dates as 3 Feb 1899, I like to write it as February 3, 1899. It just reads better, but I am always worried genealogy snobs will scoff at it. :)

    I also like the call-to-action to leave comments. I want the discussion on ancestors to stay public and not go to email so that others can be helped along the way. I can't stand being on the genforums and seeing a user ask someone to reply to them via email.

    Jonathan Medford

  7. Thanks for your comments, Jonathan. There are a lot of things to consider, aren't there.