Family History Writing: Sequencing Challenge

I have an issue with sequencing. Many years ago this was diagnosed during a learning styles assessment. Do you remember in grammar school where you read a story and then had to put a series of items in the order in which they happened? Well I could never do it. Only if there was a cause and effect could I get close ie.: Mary was carrying the eggs– the eggs splattered on the ground. This was a distinct disadvantage in school and also in “telling” stories and jokes out loud. However it has been helpful in several ways.

  • I don’t get hung up when movies or books jump around in a non-linear fashion
  • I have to stay organized in my genealogy, often making spreadsheets to keep track of what happened & when
  • I approach writing from an arguably more creative way

When we read most stories about an ancestor they most often follow a very linear approach. So and so was born on X date to these parents. They married, they had these kids and then they died. Occasionally an online tree will have them dying before they were married. Or the parents being born after their children, but usually it follows a fairly predictable pattern.

For this challenge take either a story you have already written or one you were thinking about writing and I want you to purposely place the details out of sequence. Why I am asking you to do this?

  • It will make you think about what you want to highlight in the person’s life
  • It may lead to things you hadn’t thought about (the BIG WHYs: why did she do that, why did he move, take that job, etc)
  • It forces you to be more creative—thus less predictable
  • It makes your writing more interesting to read

A made up example:

June hated getting up on stage. The first time she did it she nearly fainted. It was at PS 97 in Brooklyn and she was the Tin Man in her school’s production of the Wizard of Oz. Her mother used to say she was a born actress…

June was born 17 June 1944 to Mary and Joseph Callender. She was the eldest of 4 children….

The point is to breath life into your stories. Give it a try and see where it leads.

Kelly Wheaton Copyright 2021. All Rights reserved.

2 Comments on “Family History Writing: Sequencing Challenge”

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