Monday, 23 January 2012

Family History Writing Challenge

Lynn Palermo, The Armchair Genealogist, has come along just at the right time (AGAIN).   This time she has nudged me into revisiting my chef d'oeuvre and turning it into a masterpiece.  How? By posting about the Family History Writing Challenge which will take place in February.  I have previously taken part in NaNoWriMo, which is a challenge that gets  you to write a 50,000-word novel in a month, so I am familiar with the concept.  Lynn has set up a new blog for the Family History Writing Challenge, and in it she answers the questions Why should I sign up? Whom do I write about? How much do I need to write? Where do I write? What if it's not good enough? When does it begin? and Where do I sign up?

I am excited to take part: I am going to revisit a family history book I started writing in 2003 about one of the branches of my family tree with the surname MURCH.  "Faith and Silk - The Murches of Ottery St Mary 1687-1875"  was its title, and I did the initial research, putting all 14,000 words into a Word document. These particular ancestors have provided me with plenty of subjects to cover: monarchs, wars, revolutions, weaving, woolcombing, religious nonconformism, silk and lace working, and the technological advances of the time. *rubs hands with glee at the thought*.

The trouble is: now that I look at it again, I can't remember which bits were written by me, and which were written by other people and faithfully copied down by me as research! so I am going to have to revisit it word by word (oh, dear, what a horrible thing to contemplate - NOT.  I am rubbing my hands with glee again). 

Back then, I used Microsoft Word to contain my words of wisdom.  A wonderful word processor, it does have disadvantages when you are writing anything of any considerable length like a book (scrolling to see things and find things, for instance).  So now I am going to use Scrivener (the Windows version).  I have imported those precious 14,000 words, and already I feel more in control.  I can divide them into chapters and even paragraphs, find things easily, use the corkboard feature so I can see at a glance where I am.  Eventually, when I have worked out what is research and which are my own words, I can separate the two and yet keep the research within the same program.  Scrivener puts the "flow" back into "workflow".

Roll on February!

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