Monday, October 4, 2010

Think Your Family is Too Boring to Write About?

Odds are, that if you get an old box of fading photographs into the same room as older members of your family - stories will begin to fly. Even if no one can remember who in the world is in the photo! (Sometimes those are the best kind for writers - as you can let your imagination run away with you ...)

Everyone has a story.  You may think your own life story is boring. And maybe today it is. However, your story uniquely interacts with all of the other story lines among your family and friends. Next time you feel writer's block creeping up on you, if you have time in your impending deadline ... dig out that box of photos gathering dust in your drawer or closet, and go hang out with your relatives or friends. Jot down a few of the more interesting tid bits revealed while you wax nostalgic about the 'good ole days'. Family stories are great for analyzing motivations for characters. Why did your great, great grandparents pack up their entire family and leave their home country to come to America? Why did Uncle Larry sell all of his tractors and move to Boston? Could you twist those elements of motivation into a new story, with new characters of your own? Go on, spice it up a little ...

In my family, Fall is traditionally when we have our family reunion. Because my grandfather is ailing we aren't having it this year. However, we've started digging through the family photos to distract him while he is hospitalized and oh what treasures we are finding!  We've additionally made new contact with cousins in Hungary - reconnecting with a part of our family that we had lost for a time. What great story ideas are unfolding ...

May you all find buried treasures amidst your own dust-gathering photos that are worth borrowing ideas from!

- Suzanne Wesley


  1. This is something that I'm always interested in.

    Who wrote this post? Lately I've wondered this and then see the writer's name in the "Posted by" line, but today I'm baffled. Reveal yourself! :)

    But even non-historical premises can come from a family story or fact or even relationship trial. We need to use the passions of our hearts, and sometimes that is rooted in families.

    My passion for my "Kid" interviews started because I was looking through old family photos.

    Great post!

  2. Hi Crystal, I'm the poster. Actually would love to find a way around being virtually anonymous on here. I can comment as myself, but when I post it automatically posts as "The Book and Cover Reviewer" - which is related to my personal blog? I usually try to tack my name onto the post somehow but was in a hurry this morning! You caught me :0) Totally agree that it doesn't have to become the start of a historical. That just happens to be what I'm interested in lately.

  3. Enjoyed this post, Suzanne! I'm sure using my family heritage in my China novels -- the first one is "Hungry River: A Yangtze Novel" and I'm working on the sequel/s. . . :-)

  4. Great post! It's true, put a few oldtimers(I'm one) in a room, and the stories takeover.

  5. Yay, Suzanne! So glad you revealed your name. I am so interested in this sort of thing. I'm not sure how you change your name on the identity. I think you have to go to your settings and there is a place somewhere there.

    Excellent post!