Family History: How to use the outline to write your story

Family History: How to use the outline to write your storyBy Barry J. Ewell

Remember, the outline is a blueprint. Just as blueprints help a builder create a structure, your outline can form the foundation or frame for the first draft.

Writing experience by experience, topic by topic: If your out¬line is on a computer, you can just click your cursor at any part of the outline you have created and fill in the details. This can help you overcome writer’s block. That is, you can write the third section first, if you want. Then simply go back and fill in sections one and two. When you revise, you can make sure all the pieces fit together. Continue reading

Family History: Creating the personal history outline

10-16-2014 3-49-05 PMBy Barry J. Ewell

If you took the time to create the Profile Storage Container (or the Box) where you have kept your research, you will find the outline is very easy to create. Start with the first folder and move your way back through the folders, whether you have them in chronological or topical order. If you didn’t take time to create “The Box,” start at the beginning and outline the major events of your life. Start with your childhood years and continue through to the present. For example, the following is a very rough outline, using the roman numeral Continue reading

Family History: Overview of writing the personal history

10-16-2014 4-04-07 PMBy Barry J. Ewell

Get a “second opinion” or several other opinions after you’ve written part of the story—from people you interviewed to be sure you understood their meaning, from people who don’t know any-thing about your family to see if they understand, and from people who know something about writing to see what they think of your work.
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Family History: Try the mapping technique if you need more help with the outline or story

Family History: Try the mapping technique if you need more help with the outline or storyBy Barry J. Ewell

Whenever I need a little bit—or a lot—of extra help developing ideas that I am going to write about, I use what is called “mapping.” Mapping refers to organizing your ideas visually by connecting one thought with another. Eventually, mapping will lead you to a list of ideas and a sequence to use them in. Continue reading

Family History: Revising the first draft

Family History: Revising the first draftBy Barry J. Ewell

Your first draft is done—congratulations! That’s a good beginning. Now it’s time to revise and edit. The difference between a mediocre personal history and a great personal history often comes in the revising and editing stage. I can’t stress this phase of writing enough! I have had the sad experience of writing and printing a newsletter, brochure, or flyer where thorough editing was not done, and an error (such as a misspelling) slipped by. No matter Continue reading

Family History: Personal history structure

10-16-2014 1-48-48 PMBy Barry J. Ewell

Your first draft was an exercise of getting your thoughts on paper. One of the first tasks you will address when reviewing your writing is to look closely at the body of the personal history and decide if the reader will be able to see and follow the flow. A good personal history is not simply a collection of good paragraphs, it doesn’t start and stop at random—it moves in one direction. Good structure comes about through restructuring Continue reading

Family History: Support your claims

Family History: Support your claimsBy Barry J. Ewell

When you write personal histories, most individuals will take your word on what you write concerning experiences and stories or about instances that are “common knowledge.” If your personal history is going to be interesting, you should tell the reader something they don’t already know. When you write about other people, you will need backup—beyond your own word—to help develop and support what is being said. This type of backup would include newspaper articles, photos, certificates, letters, and history books. Evidence is Continue reading