To make a long (family) story short

Following the success of her Family History Writing Challenge in February, The Armchair Genealogist blogger Lynn Palermo encourages us to consider writing short stories about our ancestors. In the latest issue of Storylines, Ms. Palermo rightly says that writing a lengthy story about our family history can seem overwhelming. Writing a short story can provide us with “a quick shareable vehicle for our narratives.”

Ms. Palermo offers several reasons why the short story format is beneficial to sharing our family’s stories. Two reasons that stood out are Capturing the Attention of a Younger Generation and Avoid Too Much Backstory. When you write a short family history, you learn how to go quickly to the plot and eliminate the details and unnecessary information.

Ms. Palermo says, “A family history short story will not be an epic tale that includes your entire research. Rather, it will provide a snapshot of a moment in your family history. It will be a snippet of time which centres on an event, a day, an experience or incident specific to an ancestor.”

To help us start, Ms. Palermo will provide a writing prompt each month. This month’s prompt is about an Easter memory.

You may subscribe to Storylines by submitting your email address in the box in the left-hand margin on the Storylines page.


About Gail Dever

Gail Dever is a Montreal-based genealogist and blogger and a webmaster for the British Isles Family History Society of Greater Ottawa.
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3 Responses to To make a long (family) story short

  1. Susan Gingras Calcagni says:

    Thanks Gail for this article. This sounds very suitable for my needs right now, and like Ms Palermo’s approach, so I’ve subscribed to Storylines.

  2. patsyt says:

    The short story is a great idea. Not only is it manageable, it distils the big picture down to its essence, if that’s not too much of a mixed metapor. I might try it myself, thanks!

  3. Dianne Nolin says:

    Well, I made my short stories from the beginning of time! LOL. But I love the idea of making short stories out of an instance in time. I had thought about it, and perhaps following the Storylines blog will encourage me to get at it.
    After all the research, getting to know the characters, writing it all down was like when you finish a good book, kinda sad. But as we all know, research into family history is never finished, so maybe one day there will be a second edition!
    I made books last summer/fall for Christmas gifts for my children of their fathers heritage (also one in French for my niece), and the year before for my husband and his kids, books recounting their heritage. Now I am working on that of MY heritage and did make a book for my 88 year old Mom, while she is still alive.. when I gave it to her she cried.
    I published them at Blurb, just so other family members can buy them if they wish, which some have done. It is a little cheaper to have it done at Staples, which I have used to make story books fir my grandkids… starring them!.
    My Heritage books are here if anyone wants to take a look at the format I used, and read my stories.
    GUIMONT & CHEVRIER Families/ English:
    GUIMONT & CHEVRIER Families/French:
    NOLIN & RUNGE Families:
    MAOR & KING Families:

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