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“This is a powerful book as well as a kindly one. The Thurstons know the pain of learning to write well and are right beside you through the struggle. They may shake you up a little with their concrete, practical recommendations, but if you stick with them they will make you a better writer. You will learn if only by paying attention to their own fluid style. They show as well as tell.” —Richard Bushman, Gouverneur Morris Professor of History Emeritus, Columbia University; recipient of the Bancroft Prize for From Puritan to Yankee: Character and Social Order in Connecticut, 1690-1795

“The Thurstons have written a clever and lively how-to book with the tasty subtitle How to Write a Story People Will Want to Read. This is harder than you may imagine. Even the most interesting life can be written in a dull, lifeless way. The Thurstons want all of us to know that there are techniques that can be learned, and practiced, in pursuit of a lively, readable story. Step by step, they lead the prospective writer through the steps of building a proficiency in telling the story. They detail the pitfalls many writers face, and explain how to move from envisioning your project to bringing it to completion. Each lesson has a “Learn by Doing” exercise, designed to hone the skills taught and to give the writer the confidence to move on to the next step in the writing. In the margins are quick inspirations and, at times, hilarious observations by writers we know and respect. Breathe Life into Your Life Story is a great introduction to writing that even experienced authors will find helpful. This book is an excellent place to start. It is highly recommended.” Jeff Needle, Association for Mormon Letters                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         _________________________  

“From a distance, writing looks easy. I know from personal experience it is not. The Thurstons’ fun and useful guide to writing a personal history is full of sensible help and upbeat advice. The quotes alone make entertaining reading; but even more, each chapter is loaded with essential guidelines and good ideas, supported by apt examples. The book helps you bring your life into focus to write an engaging story.” — Barbara Renick, professional genealogist and nationally known lecturer; author of Genealogy 101: How to Trace Your Family’s History and Heritage


 About the Content

Unlike most books in its genre, Breathe Life into Your Life Story focuses specifically on how you write your personal history—on the quality of your writing.

Many personal history how-to books primarily consist of a list of writing prompts. These books are helpful, of course, because they trigger memories and get people writing.

athe Life takes it from there, showing you how to make your personal history as interesting as the life you’ve led. Each of its 13 chapters will help you improve some aspect of the way you write your story.
The list of chapter titles below will give you an overview of what you'll find inside.



                                                                               Chapter Topics

        Breathing Lessons: First Things First
        The Power of “Showing”: Give Your Story the Breath of Life
        Lights, Camera, Action! Zoom in on Key Events
        Writing at the Gut Level: Let Your Feelings Show
        Writing about People: Breathe Life into Your Characters
        Writing about Places: Put Your Life on the Map
        Re-Creating Your World: Establish Your Life Context
        Linking Your Life with History: Where Were You When…
        The Hitchcock Factor: Rivet Readers with Conflict and Suspense
        What’s Essential and What’s Not: Cutting the Clutter
        Beginning with a Bang: Write a “Wow” Beginning
        Jump-Starting Your Imagination: Story Ideas for the Stumped
        Breathing on Your Own: Steady to “The End

Excerpt from Chapter 2, “The Power of Showing”

Don’t just tell me that you love me—you’ve got to show me! You may have heard this refrain a time or two, maybe even said it yourself. Actions do speak louder than words.

The principle is as important to writing as it is to good relationships. In most cases, showing is better than telling. Too many stories seem flat and monotonous because their authors do too much telling.

When you summarize and generalize, you suck the life out of your stories. If you limit your description of an important experience to a cursory summary like “I graduated from Harvard during the turbulent ‘60s. It was an interesting time to be there,” not only do you miss the opportunity to engage your readers with a compelling narrative, you keep them at arm’s length. When you simply describe your grandfather as “a generous man of unflagging integrity,” you pay him a compliment but do him a disservice because your general statement doesn’t make him live for your readers. It doesn’t capture his humanity or convince your reader you grandfather is who you say he is.

Telling? Showing? How are they different? To understand their applications in writing, let’s look at a few examples.... (To learn more, you'll just have to read the book!!)



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