Here are five simple tips for making your personal stories, family-history writing and scrapbook journaling more interesting and inviting. Because interesting is always better than boring. That's my personal motto.
"Interesting! Of course! People LOVE interesting writing!"
—Elaine from Seinfeld, circa 1997
1. Keep it short.
In writing, as in conversation, audiences appreciate it when you get to the point quickly. If you must meander, make sure there's a purpose for every detour—it should either add important context, personality, or humor to your story. Just because a thought came to mind while you were writing doesn't mean it belongs where you put it. After you've written an initial draft, read through your story again with your finger poised over the delete key. Here are the three easiest places to cut when brevity is the goal:
- Remove repetitive sentences. Look for the same idea expressed two or more times in close proximity and cut out the extras.
- Omit filler phrases. Get rid of those introductory phrases that plant themselves in your story while you're composing but serve no other purpose than to take up space. Think of them as weeds that are choking out your flowers. Examples are "now that I think about it" or "and the truth is" or "believe it or not."
- Delete unnecessary words. Cut out half of your adjectives, especially vague and overused adjectives like "very" and "so."
2. Embrace lists.
- "10 Things I Didn't Know About My Grandfather While He Was Alive"
- "What I Remember About My Grandma's House"
- "A Few Quick Updates About My Life" (I use this one in my journal all the time)
- "Things I Miss Most About My Mom"
- "12 Life Lessons Learned from Great-Grandma Milliken"
- "10 Things I Love About My Life Right Now" (great for a scrapbook page)
- "Highlights from Our Hawaiian Vacation" (also great for a scrapbook page)
3. Pick an angle.
- Why am I really making this page or telling this story?
- How was this birthday party different from every other birthday party I've attended?
- How was it the same?
- Who was the most interesting or unexpected guest?
- What was the most unexpected gift?
- How do these photos make me feel?
4. Be authentic.
5. Take your time—some of the time.
- Listen to the latest Paperclipping Roundtable podcast, where fellow guest Elizabeth Dillow and I discuss ways to craft more interesting stories with hosts Izzy and Noell Hyman.
- Also read Elizabeth Dillow's five excellent tips for making your scrapbook journaling more interesting on her blog, A Swoop and a Dart.