Friday, July 8, 2011

Article #157 Boring or Interesting?

What makes the difference? You have to interest your reader on the first page or they won’t start reading whatever you are writing. Your choice of words, action verbs, descriptions, all these are techniques that can help make your history more interesting. Your story needs to move along and not get bogged down with too many details or lack of action. Is there some problem that your subject tries to overcome in their life? This can interest the reader to find out how the conflict is overcome or the problem solved.

Sounds fictional, but all of us within our life story have moments of great drama, sorrow, trials, as well as humorous and happy experiences. Take a moment to list some of these possible items from your own life. As I look back at my biography the events that I’d include begin with my parents courtship to give some background to the location and setting of my birth, then other important or dramatic events that occurred were: the tragic death of my father, my dating experiences-finding my prince, getting married, starting a family, then later divorcing and becoming a single parent.

Somewhat normal events but how I felt about them and solved the problems and challenges involved is important for my descendants to come to know me better. Details and descriptions fill in the blanks in my life and make me who I am today.

When I was helping my aunt write her life story, she casually mentioned they were in Pearl Harbor when it was bombed. No details were given until I questioned her and then wrote down more information that made her history more interesting: digging ditches in their back yard for a bomb shelter, blackening their windows at night to avoid being bombed, living in fear for days on end not knowing what the future would bring. All these details brought a clearer picture and put the reader right there with her. Wondering what would happen next could motivate others to continue reading.

My aunt finally got safely back to American soil when the women and children were evacuated by a destroyer that took a zig-zag course back to the States to avoid detection by enemy submarines or ships. Fascinating story. but she was going to stop her story without telling it all. So analyze your biography or history to see what important events you might have left out. (Photos of my aunt Ethel now 91, her husband Sonny, and their sons Albert and Bill.)


  1. Yes ,indeed .Interesting details do make a novel/story/biography more appealing .Great tip.

  2. You've given me food for thought. I'll try to remember that when I get back to doing my own history.

  3. Well done. I think underlying every great story is the belief that "my story is your story." It's about heart.

  4. I agree with you and also the importance of pictures. All words is more difficult for me.

  5. She was at Pearl wish I had more relatives around to ask questions parents are not helpful really about our history...