Getting the Story Down

Questions and answers on writing life experiences for ourselves and others.

Index of Questions

1. Why is it important to record life stories?

2. What if your life seems boring and ordinary? Who willwant to read it?

3. What is the best way to capture the story? Video, oraltapes, written narrative etc.

4. What is a story? Definitions of different types of lifeexperiences and how they are captured.

5. Who's who in the capture of a life event: Story teller,listener, interviewer, historian, audience, transciptionist,archivist etc.

6. What is the role of a listener? How should the questionsbe phrased so that bias or personality is subdued and thestoryteller is in charge?

7. Is the role different if the storyteller is facing a lifethreatening disease?

8. How do you handle it if in telling of the story emotionsand repressed feelings surface?

9. How do you get enough information? When do you turnto family members or public records?

10. How much time does it take to complete a story?Everyone is so busy and life goes by so quickly, how canI ever squeeze this in?

11. What is truth? Why would two different peoplepresent at the same event see it entirely different andwhich version do you believe and record?

12. How should you convey the story? First person, thirdperson, lots of photos with captions, small easily readsections or one long letter?

13. What are the main types of personal anecdotes, lifeevents, experiences, tragedies and triumphs that make agood memoir?

14. How do you narrow it down to the "real" story? What ishidden beneath the iceberg?

15. What are some questions to jog memories?

16. What about editing, spelling, composition etc? What ifothers judge your work and find it less than perfect?

17. How do you structure the narrative so that it isinteresting, believable and leaves the message the storyteller wanted to convey?

18. What do you do with the narrative when you havefinished writing it?

19. Who does the finished work belong to?

20. Where can you find additional assistance on personalhistorians or story telling issues?

21. Where is the paper and pen?

If you are interested in getting the answers to these and otherquestions about life story writing, please contact us and sign up for a tele-classand our FREE e-zine: "The Artichoke" - finding the heart of thestory in the journey of life..

©Judy H. Wright, Personal and Oral Historian -

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