Family History and Writing

Last night I attended a 2 hour session on Writing Interesting Family Histories by Carol Baxter at Hornsby Library.

Carol is a fabulous speaker and the information she imparts is invaluable. Her intent is to encourage and help family historians break away from the habit of listing dry facts and dates and instead create engaging narratives, to write histories. I just wanted to hug her, because she encourages people to do all the things that, due to my history training, I am almost desperate for people to do: read widely, understand the context and properly cite your bloody sources!

I know the gentleman sitting behind me will probably ignore the latter message [oh the snarky comments I could make about some of the overheard conversations and audience questions] but if even half the audience internalises these 3 things as the take home message, I shall be happy.

So, what was my take home message? How to approach the happy medium in writing. I have spent so long in academia that when I write, I often default to academese. I know I write well. In an academic setting. I want to broaden my horizons so to speak. Be able to engage with a different kind of audience. Learn not to shun adjectives as superfluous.

In any case, Carol’s advice on approach, structure and prose has give me a lot to think about and a way in which to start.  Annotated timelines here I come!

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