Monday, November 28, 2016

Free Tutorial on Writing a Memoir or Biography (2)

Tutorial 2
Setting the Scene

So, you know grandfather was born in the Czech Republic (for example), though at the time it might have been called something else. You’d love to go visit and do some first-hand research so that when you write the family story it will seem more real. But travel that far is just not in your budget. Not to worry, there are other resources available that can help you set the scene.

Often effectively setting  a scene relies only on a few details, and an impression. You want to spark a feeling in your reader as read your family story, similar to the feeling you get when you look at the pictures you have.
  1.  Google Maps and Google Earth both let you virtually wander through the streets of just about any town. If you’re lucky enough to have a picture in that box with a street sign on it, you can often find that exact spot. It will look different but will still make it feel very real.
  2. Next, try local tourism office websites. These days many offer an English version, if you’re Czech isn’t quite up to it, or you can ask google to translate the site for you. Machine translation does a reasonable job, at least good enough to give you the gist of what you’re looking for.
  3. Finally, local museums and historical societies can fill in a lot of blanks on the era your ancestor lived in. If the information you're looking for is not readily available on their site, a quick email to a curator there might get you want you need. 

Even a good travel guidebook found at the library can get you started on setting that first scene.

And as always, I am available to offer guidance on your family history project, or to hold a presentation for your group. I also take on a few full memoir/family history writing projects each year; from shoe box of pictures to printed book.
Contact me at: elynnh2write (at)

Or feel free to leave a comment below. 

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Free Tutorial on Writing a Memoir or Biography (1)

Mining your family history for stories

Tutorial 1

So, you there you are with a shoe box full of old photos and some stories you might remember your parents or grandparents telling you. How do you preserve that history for your kids and future generations?

Over the next few weeks I’ll offer you three free tutorials to get you started writing your family stories. These are the steps I took to successfully write Tales from the Fountain Pen which was picked up by a publisher.

Step 1: Take out the photos and put them in some kind of chronological order. If you’re having trouble, go online to research clothing, cars (if any), etc., from that era. It doesn’t have to be precise.
Step 2: Find the earliest photo, that will be the starting point for your story.

Step 3: Start creating a chart, using the pictures as your guide. Fill in rough estimates of dates, places and events as they come up in the pictures and your memory. Write down keywords you remember and impressions you get from the pictures. These will all be helpful once you start writing.

These first three steps should keep you busy for a while. As you go through them pretty you’ll start to see a pattern emerging that will let you get started on writing that family memoir.

Of course these steps can apply to any kind of writing where all you have to work with are visual cues from pictures or objects.

As always, I am available to assist. I take on a few full memoir writing projects each year (from shoebox of pictures to printed and bound book), but I am also available as a developmental editor to guide you through the process of creating a book yourself including guiding you through the CreateSpace process to get that printed book, and lastly, I’m available for consultations on your project. 
Contact me at: elynnh2write (at)  
Or visit my website:
And as always, leave comments below.

Next up: Tutorial 2: How to set the scene