Tuesday, July 1, 2014

If you are serious about writing…

There is a difference between gathering historical data and writing about it.  It is pretty easy to enter simple facts into a genealogy database program but writing a narrative about those facts isn’t easy at all.  You want to convey them in an interesting way but at the same time you want to make sure your writing is clear, concise and correct. 

This blog is an example of informal writing.  I live by my own rules.  I can write what I want, when I want, in whatever format I want.  When you cross over into the area of formal writing there are established standards you need to adhere to.   The Writing and Publishing for Genealogists class was all about these standards. Here are some things you need to think about when you are writing narratives that other people will be reading:

  • grammar
  • punctuation
  • syntax
  • clarity
  • conciseness

These things have to do with the mechanics of your writing and not the content.  Having good content is imperative but you also need to be able to effectively communicate that content.

The first thing we learned was the importance of having good reference books in your personal library which will help you with the mechanics of good writing. I already have many of the books Dr. Jones recommends but there are still more that I need to get.  I am only going to list a few of my favorites.  Dr. Jones gave us pages and pages of reference materials with each section of the course which for a bookaholic like me is quite dangerous.  if you are serious about improving your genealogical writing skills you need to put these books on your wish list.

  • Board for Certification of Genealogists. Genealogy Standards. Nashville: Ancestry, 2014.
  • Chicago Manual of Style, 16th edition. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2010.
  • Curran, Joan Ferris, Madilyn Coen Crane, and John H. Wray. Numbering Your Genealogy: Basic Systems, Complex Families, and International Kin. Arlington, Va.: National Genealogical Society, 2008.
  • Finley, Carmen J. Creating a Winning Family History. Arlington, Va.: National Genealogical Society, 2010.
  • Jones, Thomas W. Mastering Genealogical Proof. Arlington, Va.: National Genealogical Society, 2013.
  • Kipfer, Barbara Ann and Robert L. Chapman, editors. Roget’s International Thesaurus, 6th ed. New York: Harper-Collins, 2010.
  • Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, 11th ed.  Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2003.
  • Mills, Elizabeth Shown. Evidence Explained: Citing History Sources from Artifacts to Cyberspace. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., 2012.
  • Ross-Larson, Bruce. Edit Yourself : A Manual for Everyone Who Works with Words. New York: W. W. Norton, 1996.
  • Strunk, William and E. B. White. The Elements of Style. Allyn and Bacon, 1999.

I will be talking about other things I learned in the class but I will also be interjecting blog posts about totally unrelated topics because this is my blog and I can do whatever I want Smile


Copyright © 2014 Michele Simmons Lewis

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