How can I help with a personal history?

My father and I have different talents when it comes to researching and recording family history:  he does genealogy;  I do personal history and family history.  In other words, in my mind, at least, he does the bones (or the branches and limbs of the family tree, to say it as he might prefer) and I do the meat and flesh (or the leaves and blooms)—I like to dig out and research and add in the stories.

Both parts are necessary steps and both parts are difficult. But here are the ways I can help with your personal history, your family history, or your business history:

I can assist you with

  • categorizing family notes and genealogical research;
  • organizing information into a logical flow and deciding what sidebars and types and pieces of artwork are appropriate;
  • planning and discussing objectives with appropriate parties;
  • applying consistent use of colloquialisms, regional speech patterns and vocabulary terms, and era-appropriate slang;
  • researching partial memories and questionable “stories” (as well as fact-checking where needed); and . . .

of course, getting your information into some sort of printable format, whether you decide to end up with a collection of stories on paper, a story that has more of a continuous run to it, or a script you can use later to create a video program or audio presentation.

Once we have your personal story or family story to this point, the difficult work is done!  And the options are many. At this point, for instance, you can decide to photocopy your manuscript, to seek out a small press or self-publisher, or to post your creation online.

If you decide to actually print the manuscript that we create, I can help you work with your print shop or publisher by

  • proofing for text alignment, word division, line breaks and page breaks, page citations, header and footer formatting, and general page appearance and
  • creating acknowledgments, tables of contents, indexes, and reference lists.

If you decide to go online, I can help you with that, as well—through posts to a private blog site or creation of a public website. 

You and your family decide, and I will help guide you through the variety of possiblilties . . .  Just think about what you might like and ask!

 

Stephen, the-freelance-editor.com
e-mail: editorial –at– Im Your Editor –dot– com
text: 832-233-0041

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The “frontier” between fiction and nonfiction

One of my favorite new blogs, A Writer of History, recently posted an amazing interview about the writing of historical fiction—or is it “creative history” or historical nonfiction?  Personally, while some argue that the terms are synonymous for the same genre, I’ve always felt that the genre designation depended on the author, the research, the message, and the presentation, if you know what I mean!  And I’m glad that author Charlotte Gray not only agrees but has definitely earned the right to place her relevant works (Gray also writes pure nonfiction) into the genre of historical nonfiction.

During the interview, which was posted to the blog on February 25, Mary Tod asked two seemingly unrelated questions of Gray: “What ingredients make for successful historical nonfiction?” and “Can you tell us what you mean when you say that the frontier between fiction and nonfiction is under constant negotiation?”

Gray’s insightful responses are actually central to the fiction-nonfiction debate:

Trustworthiness. I have worked hard to establish a reputation as a nonfiction writer who does not invent characters, events, conversations. If I say what somebody is thinking, I know about their internal monologue from private letters etc. So readers can know they are increasing their knowledge and understanding of Canadian history without constantly asking themselves, “Did this really happen?” . . .  A novelist is not under such constraints to stick to the known facts . . . he or she can let their imaginations run! (But if they have somebody driving a car in the 1880s, that’s a problem!)

Jump over to A Writer of History and glean the knowledge that awaits in the many other information-packed answers. While reading, remember that much of the commentary and advice can pertain to other fiction genres and categories as well as it does to any type of nonfiction.

Stephen, the-freelance-editor.com
e-mail: editorial –at– Im Your Editor –dot– com
text: 832-233-0041 (temporary)

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Thoughts on writing, from author Ruth Rendell

I am totally envious of the information that Alison Flood gathered from octogenarian author Ruth Rendell in her recent interview. But, I certainly couldn’t have done a better job! 

For those not familiar with her work, Rendell also writes under the pseudonym Barbara Vine, the pen name she uses in her latest book, The Child’s Child.  For the record, I just finished reading The Child’s Child  and willingly recommend it—even the book that’s within the book, which I particularly liked, unlike many of the reviewers at Goodreads!  The book within the book is a reflective peek into one family’s history and the actions that a few members of that family felt they had to take to live within societal dictates of the time. In my opinion, the interior book provided an unusually comfortable look at everyday life during the period and how that life viewed homosexuality and out-of-wedlock motherhood.

Back to Flood’s interview “Ruth Rendell: a life in writing” . . . The piece was posted to the Manchester Guardian website on March 1, 2013, and guides Rendell into thoughts about using a pseudonym to change perspective; tackling social issues like domestic violence, pedophilia, and racism; and writing crime-based fiction.

Reflecting on the latter, she believes the force of her books featuring Chief Inspector Reginald Wexford lies in knowing his personality, not in knowing the ugly, dark sides of people or life.

I just wait until I’ve got a character and I think why would anybody do that, what is it in their background, what is it in their lives makes them do it. Usually these things are just accident or impulse, or because people are drunk or on something. . . . It’s that people do these things almost by accident, or because of anger, their rage, their madness—and then probably regret it.

On the subject of her own writing, she admits that “I don’t find writing easy . . . I do take great care, I rewrite a lot . . . If anything is sort of clumsy and not possible to read aloud to oneself, which I think one should do . . . it doesn’t work.”

When talking about the writing of others, Rendell tells Flood, “The things they write, it’s as if writing dialogue is just a matter of he said, she said, thank you, yes, how are you and so on, all this superfluous stuff nobody needs. It’s as if they don’t look at it and say, ‘Do people talk like that?'”

Please, follow the link and enjoy the interview for yourself.

Stephen, the-freelance-editor.com
e-mail: editorial –at– Im Your Editor –dot– com
text: 832-233-0041 (temporary)

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