Wednesday, April 27, 2011

An Exercise For FAmily Stories

This is a picture of my parents and me taken in around 1940, I believe. We were a family of three then, but by 1955, we w ere six. Whether your family is large or small, you have family stories. One of my passions is urging people to write their family stories so that they won't be lost in the wind tunnel of life. You can't depend on them being passed down through the generations orally.

This morning, I found an interesting writing exercise that will, I believe, be most helpful in drawing prose portraits of your family members. Writing a memoir is more than just reporting what happened. Oh, you could do that, but it will be far more interesting reading if you make your characters come alive on the page.

To do this, you need to find out your own thoughts about each family member. Make a list of your family members,--parents, siblingss, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins and maybe yourself. Next to each one, write a sentence or two that describes them physically. Then a sentence or two that reveals personality traits that you admire and also those you don't.

Doing this will bring out some things that may surprise you, if you are honest in what you write. Let it come quickly and from within. No one else is going to see this list, it's for you to use when writing those family stories, to give you a better understanding of who you are writing about and maybe why some things occurred as they did.

This is an easy and quick exercise and one I think will be most beneficial to those writing family stories, and maybe even to those who aren't!

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