Be a detailed story teller. Inform the reader about the family members in the story. Take note of the following example.
- No Detail: My cousin Bob on Dad’s side liked to play baseball. One time when playing with some other cousins they broke a window and had to pay for it.
- Detail: My cousin Bob (My dad’s sister Cathy Jensen’s son) played baseball for his high school (Mt. Lebanon Senior High School) in Pittsburgh PA. Whenever his younger cousins, my brothers Mike and Don were around, he would play baseball with them and teach them plays. One Saturday afternoon, he was showing Mike how to swing the bat and he hit the ball right into a neighbor’s window. All three boys chipped in to pay for the window repair, but Bob paid the most since he felt responsible for the younger boys.
What is the difference between the two stories? In the first story, you learn the writer has a cousin named Bob on her father’s side who liked to play baseball. In the second story, you learn who Bob’s mother is and her “married” last name. You also learned he played baseball in High School and the name and location of the school. Additionally, you found out that the younger cousins were the writer’s brothers, and you learned their names. All three took responsibility for the window and paid for it.
If you are working on a family tree, these names and locations will prove to be very helpful. Detail is important when it comes to names, locations of residences, schools attended, family deaths (always give the cemetery name)
People’s personalities are also important. If someone was comical, serious, grumpy, shy, or fun, it’s important to tell future generations. Everyone wants to know who their ancestors were and what they did. Did your grandparents have hobbies? Did they live on a farm, raise chickens, and have a big garden? Who were the knitters in your family? Did they make hats and mittens for everyone? Today’s generation is a texting, selfie-taking group of people that won’t know anything about their family history if you don’t write it down. You may need to explain what traditional phones were like, and cassette players too. Anytime you can include a picture that shows an object it will help the reader to relate better. You may have carried a boom box on your shoulder, but does your grandson even know what it is?
The more descriptive you are, the better your story will be.