Table of Contents
Introduction .................................................................. 11
Getting Started .............................................................. 13
Gathering the Facts ..................................................................... 13
Researching the Era .................................................................... 17
Choosing Who Will Tell the Story................................................. 19
First Person Point of View .......................................................... 19
Third Person Point of View ......................................................... 21
Creative Nonfiction or Fictionalized Facts? ............. 24
Creative Nonfiction .................................................................... 24
Fictionalizing the Facts .............................................................. 26
Grammar Brush-Up and Other Unfun Stuff ............. 29
Problem Words and Their Usage ................................................. 32
Punctuation for Writing Dialogue ................................................ 36
Set the Scene .................................................................. 39
Build the Visual Character .......................................... 47
Diaries, Journals, Letters, Artifacts ............................................ 47
Military Records ........................................................................ 49
Photographs ............................................................................... 50
Physical Generalities of Race ....................................................... 52
Hair Styles ...................................................................................53
Building the Visible Character Example ....................................... 54
Dress the Character in the Proper Era ....................... 56
Native American Clothing ........................................................... 58
Civil War Uniforms ...................................................................... 59
Union .......................................................................................... 60
Confederate ................................................................................. 61
Generalities of American Clothing Styles from Colonial Times to
the Early 1900s .......................................................................... 62
Women ....................................................................................... 63
Men............................................................................................. 64
Create Character Emotion ........................................... 67
Avoiding Emotional Clichés ....................................................... 68
Example of Creating Emotion in a Character ............................... 68
Outward Appearance of Emotion ................................................ 70
General Body Actions with Possible Visual Interpretations ......... 72
Emotional Props ......................................................................... 73

Words Aren't Everything ............................................... 75
Non-Verbal Communication ...................................................... 75
General Hand Gestures with Possible Visual Meanings ............... 76
Dialogue, Dialect, and Simile .........................................79
Creating Interesting Dialogue .................................................... 79
Secrets and Scandals, the Salt and Pepper of Life ...... 87
Example of a Short Story Based on an Event in an
Ancestor's Life ................................................................ 90
The Dare .................................................................................... 91
Story Notes to "The Dare" ......................................................... 101
The Final Touch ........................................................... 104
Editing Tips ............................................................................... 104
That Something Extra: Photographs, Illustrations, and
Other Fun Stuff ...................................................... 106
It's Written, So Now What? A Look at Several Ways to
Self-Publish ........................................................... 110
Printing Format ........................................................................ 110
Publishing Methods You Can Do Yourself .................................. 111
Full Size, 8 ½ x 11" Books .......................................................... 111
5 ½" x 8 ½" Booklets ................................................................. 112
First Method ............................................................................. 114
Second Method ......................................................................... 115
Booklet Cover ........................................................................... 115
Booklet Story ............................................................................ 116
Make a Mock-up of Your Booklet ............................................... 117
Booklet Title .............................................................................. 117
Print Booklet Cover ................................................................... 118
Print Booklet Title ..................................................................... 118
Print Booklet Story .................................................................... 119
Self Publishing with Small Press Publishers ................................ 120
POD Publishers .......................................................................... 121
Commercial Publishers ............................................................. 122
Helpful Resources .................................................... 124
Books ......................................................................................... 124
Internet ..................................................................................... 126
Bibliography .............................................................................. 130
Books ......................................................................................... 130
Internet Sources ......................................................................... 131
Author Bio .................................................................. 132
End Notes .................................................................... 133



68 XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXM Carolyn Steele

We are individual personalities and, as such, may
show our emotions in different ways. While it is true,
we are influenced by our experiences, genetics play an
equal role. In building a historical character, look at
how a current direct descendant might react
emotionally to the event you are writing about.

XXXXXXAvoiding Emotional Clichés
A cliché is an oft used phrase or trite saying, such
as, "stomach full of butterflies," "throbbing headache"
or "mouth dry as a cotton bole." Ann Hood, in her
book, Creating Character Emotions, encourages
writers to use fresh language and images rather than
tired clichés to convey emotions. She quotes from the
novel, Smithereens, by Susan Taylor Chehak: "I could
feel the awkward, scared tumble of my heartbeat."xxxix
What a great version of the much used tag, "My
heart pounded." The author, Susan Chehak, probably
started out with the pounding heart clichè, but looked
for a new way to communicate that feeling. In doing so,
she made the emotion her character felt memorable to
the reader.

XXXXXXXXExample of Creating
XXXXXXXEmotion in a Character
Clues to emotion might be given in the family
legend itself. If an ancestor left Ireland penniless
during the potato famine, he might feel a certain
sadness, but hope for a better future would more likely
be the predominate feeling.
To simply write, "Patrick Flanagan, born about
1825, left Ireland during the potato famine. He boarded
a boat for America with only a change of clothes and a
small box of keepsakes, but filled with hope for a better
future," is telling the emotion. True, it conveys the
thought, but in an unimaginative way. More interesting


Preserving Family Legends
XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX69

to the reader, is to show the inner emotions of leaving
home.
Let's add to the bare family legend with the sight of
Patrick leaving Ireland and begin to build the story:
XXXXXXOutward Appearance of Emotion
When a person experiences any of the variety of
feelings that describe emotions, he may or may not
visually communicate such feelings with body
movement. Usually these are actions that do not need
dialog to convey meaning. Sometimes body movement
is used like an exclamation point to enforce a previous
sentence. A man, upon hearing a great-uncle's will has
named him beneficiary to a thousand-acre ranch, may
drop his mouth open. The reader doesn't need to be
told the character experiences unbelievable surprise. It
is obvious by the open mouth.
As all voyagers do, Patrick undoubtedly made his
way to the bow to stare out at the vast ocean ahead.
What hopes and fears must have gone through his
head. Perhaps he closed his eyes, inhaling the brisk
clean air and imagined he could smell the rich black
earth of America.
We don't have to say Patrick is sad at leaving family.
We have shown it by his grandfather's suitcase that
grows heavier with each step, his numb legs, the lump
in his throat, the fact the mist reminds him of his little
brother's breath. We don't have to say he is hopeful. We
have shown it with the last sentence. Of course, he can't
smell America from a thousand miles away, but what is
important, Patrick thinks he can-that is hope.
If you are a strict nonfictionalist, Patrick's voyage
would, of course, be structured differently using
conditional wording. For example the last paragraph of
the above passage might be written like this:
breath, moistened his face. He closed his eyes and
breathed deep. Here, the air was fresh, clean,
bracing. Already, even a thousand miles away, he
could smell the rich black earth of America.
70 XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXM. Carolyn Steele
Patrick hefted his grandfather's suitcase, bound
closed with hemp rope, to his shoulder. The
gangplank bounced under his feet and he glanced
over the side to watch the wharf drop away to the lap
of ocean waves. The suitcase grew heavy, his legs
numb as he trudged higher and higher leaving
behind the soil of home.
He shouldered a space next to the railing and
watched crewmen throw off the lines, felt the
shudder of the deck as the boat lumbered away from
the pier, away from everyone he held dear.
Within minutes people became as small as ants
scurrying about the wharf. He could no longer make
out familiar faces grown old with worry, cheeks
hollow with hunger. Patrick opened his mouth
wishing to call one last farewell. The words caught in
his throat, became knots that closed off his breath.
Instead, he turned and made his way to the bow.
Placing the suitcase between his feet, Patrick stood
facing the vast ocean. Mist, soft as his baby brother's
The reader sees Patrick board a boat and leave
Ireland, now add the element of emotion to this
traumatic event in his life:
Patrick hefted a suitcase to his shoulder. The
gangplank bounced under his feet as he trudged up
to the boat. He shouldered a space next to the railing
and watched crewmen throw off the lines, felt the
shudder of the deck as the boat lumbered away from
the pier.
Within minutes people became as small as ants
scurrying about the wharf. He turned and made his
way to the bow. Placing the suitcase between his
feet, he stood facing the ocean, closed his eyes and
breathed deep. Here, the air was fresh, clean,
bracing.
Excerpt from Preserving Family Legends for Future Generations

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