Saturday, January 12, 2013

Put it in writing

Like most family historians my intention is to write it all down. How will I approach that?

I’ve become a fan of Marlis Humphrey’s approach: “Next Generation Family History Publishing”.  She reminds us of something that should be a prime focus: our audience.

Who are we writing for?  What will make them want to read what we write?

If we’re writing for other family historians, we’ll want to make sure that every i is dotted and t crossed when it comes to documents and source citations. They’ll appreciate our diligence and thoroughness.  But if we’re writing for future generations, such a comprehensive and scholarly tome will just sit on bookshelves for a while before it is stored in the attic or basement.

My goal is to produce a two tier family story: a different version for each of two kinds of readers. The foundation document will include the details and photos and tree diagrams and documents with citations. From that I will derive a short version that will be as compelling and interactive as I can make it.

 My first priority is to engage my children and grandchildren and those who come after them.  These are people who’ve grown up in the information age; who have been bombarded with snippets and recaps, audio and video clips, sound bites, Facebook, texting and tweets.  I want to be able to grab their attention in such a way that they’ll want to delve deeper in their own history; and provide a place for them to go to when they do. Ms. Humphrey provides examples in her presentations including her own interactive family history book and the wonderfully creative Ology books as seen at Today’s technology tools give us so much more opportunity to make something that will be appealing to people of all ages.

Wow!  What an ambitious project.  I’d better get started.

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