Formats for Writing Life Narratives

Q and A.

Best choice when subject is very verbal or there are two or more people being interviewed or taped at the same time. All repetitive statements, umms, ahhs and blatant incorrect grammar are edited out. Natural patterns of speech, coloquolisms and favorite sayings are left in.

JHW. When you started your business in 1934, how did you finance it?

BT. Well, remember my uncle Horace? He was my Mother's brother.

HT. Half brother.

BT.. OK, so half brother, her father remarried after Sybil, my grandmother, died and my mother was a little girl about nine or ten. His second wife, what was her name?

HT.Alice May Jones, her family had moved west to build the dam.

BT.. So anyway, Horace was killed in a train wreck when he was visiting in California and as he had never married, the insurance settlement went to his next of kin, which turned out to be my mother. She wanted to invest the money and came to us and asked our advice. I told her that I had been thinking of opening this repair shop and I thought I could make a go of it. She thought about it long and hard and came back the next day and said she would rather invest in us than any old bank.

HT. But we paid her back with interest. We were able to put the business in the black in only three years.

BT. Of course, we worked our butts off, didn't we?

First person: Best choice when the tapes will need significant editing to make a flowing narrative. It is written as if the speaker were doing the writing. The interviewer simply ghost writes the life story.

I loved being a mother. It seemed as if that was the role God had created just for me. Other women would complain about their children being messy or noisy, and I honestly didn't even care. I just loved to be there when they came home from school. About two o'clock I would start to get antsy, just couldn't wait for them to come in the door, throw down their jackets and books and sit at the kitchen table and talk. I even loved cleaning up after them when they were sick. I know that is hard to believe for some people, but I used to say to myself "well, I would rather have it out here smelling bad than inside of them making them feel bad."

Third Person: Best choice if the subject is having difficulty remembering or if the interviewer has to gain the majority of the facts from records, other family members or others who can add insight and information. Jennie was a fun loving little girl and definitely the apple of Tom B. Bradshaw, her loving father's eye as well as the object of his generosity. But one time, when she was about six years old that generous and loving spirit was put to a test. Active in the first Methodist church, their entire family enjoyed the Sunday school picnics held every summer in the park east of town. On this particular day, the family had no sooner arrived and began eating when a group of little girls came to the table demanding to see the elephant Mr. Bradshaw brought.

Methods of telling the story:

It is best to think of a life as a long strand of pearls with each year or significant event as one pearl.

? An autobiography tells the jest of the whole necklace, usually in a chronological order. Chapters, special events, decades, houses or any other natural division can separate the sections.

? A memoir takes an important section of the pearls and makes a short necklace. You can refer to the other beads, but you don't go into detail describing them but concentrate on the significant period of time you are describing.

? An anthology is a collection of short unrelated stories, essays, anecdotes, incidences etc. that are gathered together in one book The stories may build upon one another or they may be able to stand on their own.

? A photoscribe is a more in depth scrapbook. The stories revolve around a photo or two.

Each page has a beginning, middle and end.

Including photos, graphics and memorabilia

These additions to the narrative greatly enhance the readability and value of the project. However, they also greatly enhance the time needed to do layout, scanning, sizing etc. that will be reflected in the cost of the finished project. One method of saving money is to group all photos in the center of the book.

If you are interested in taking a tele-class on memoir writing please send us an e-mail at [email protected] and we will set one up. It is a fun way to learn and share from the comfort of your own home.

Keep Writing!!! You are doing an important work.

©Judy H. Wright, Personal and Oral Historian - www.artichokepress.com

In The News:

Writing for our readers | Comment  www.ekathimerini.com
Satire | 12 thoughts while writing an essay during finals week  University of Pittsburgh The Pitt News
Readings & Writers  Duluth News Tribune
I, writer  INQUIRER.net

Top Seven Essential Hot-Selling Points To Implement Before Writing Chapter One

Every part of your book can be a sales tool.... Read More

8 Quick Tips on Creating Vivid, Memorable Characters

These 8 tips on using characters in your stories will... Read More

Have You Plotted Your Story Before Writing It?

Creative Writing Tips ?The writer, who doesn't have the time... Read More

Becoming the Total Package

Being a great writer is no longer enough if you... Read More

Characters In A Romance Novel

Before you even begin writing your novel, you need to... Read More

You Dont Need Inspiration!

Or do you?Writers write. You shouldn't wait around for inspiration... Read More

3 Quick Tips on Plotting Your Book

Plotting a book can seem an overwhelming task when you're... Read More

Top Ten Ways to Write a Book That Sells

Is there a book inside of you? Yes? Then why... Read More

Five Golden Rules for Writers

Regardless of what sort of writer you are and how... Read More

The Writing Game

There are a lot of tapes and books and CD... Read More

How to Get Free Publicity in In-flight Magazines

If you're targeting an educated, more affluent audience with your... Read More

Write Your Story, Put It On A Website, Sell Millions of Copies

Although he has his own website, John Grisham probably does... Read More

Writing Tips For Novice Authors

If you are reading this article then you probably have... Read More

The Author Within

Just about every marketer on the Internet claims to be... Read More

Vary Your Writing Style and Win Readers

First drafts are for getting down the ideas. Anna Jacobs... Read More

Learn How To Write Poetry!

A poet isn't born; you must work at crafting your... Read More

Turbo Charge Your Career! Write And Produce Your Own Stage Play!

Have you ever wondered how you can adapt your screenplay... Read More

Getting Published Is Different For Everyone: Two Paths Among Many

One obvious question that can get overlooked in the process... Read More

Screenwriting, Screenplays, Screenwriters ? Incremental Productivity

When attempting to understand Creativity and Innovation, it pays to... Read More

How to Avoid the 11 Biggest Mistakes of First Time Authors

"If you want to change your life," Harry Beckwith wrote... Read More

Writing Short Info Reports

People want information, they want it quick, frequently in short... Read More

Amazing Ways Writing Articles Can Improve Your Business

How to get a lot of traffic to your website... Read More

Writers Block is No Longer a Problem

"If you're like me, than I'm sure you're pretty familiar... Read More

5 Reasons People Like Technology White Papers

A good white paper is a paper that makes you... Read More

Learning How To Write

As a student of Spanish, my goal was to think... Read More