Write Your Story
Honoring the lives of those you love
We all have someone in our family who has a story to tell. Someone who has gone above and beyond, overcome, or simply made the world a better place by being in it. Someone we admire, want to honor, or desire for the world to know more fully. We’ve said to them, “You should write a book,” or “Someone should tell your story.” And it is true. Their story needs told.
But, how do you do it? Hire a biographer? Record every word they say, and have it transcribed? Or, and this is an option worth exploring, lock them in a room and don’t let them out until the story is finished? Or, and this is what I hope you will choose, is it best to tell their story yourself?
Now, before you turn the page, I promise you it is not that hard to tell the story. And, I promise you, your words, on printed page, will be the ultimate act of love, an act that will never be forgotten. I always say, she who writes it down will always be right, which is handy for those remember when arguments with details that don’t match up.
It is, as it is in many things, the beginning that seems the hardest. And it is, as it always is, easier once you start than while you are thinking about starting. If you don’t feel qualified, you should know this, a confession you already know if you have read my books — I am not an English major. I often say I am bilingual, speaking good English and bad English. So, if I can put pen to paper and write words you are still, by the way, reading, you can tell your loved one’s story.
Begin by making this simple choice:
Will it be a photo-centric story, printed by a service like Costco or Shutterfly, with few words but intense meaning? This book could be suitable for a coffee table, or child’s bookshelf. The point is this — that it is their story, told by you.
Or, will it be words, actual chapters with a flow from beginning to end? These books are easily printed through vanity publishers, or my favorite on-demand service, KDP/Amazon. These books allow you to tell more of the story, and to truly say, at the end of the task, “I am an author.”
With that choice made, it’s time to tell the story, and I am going to suggest you begin with the end in mind. How? By deciding how you want the reader to feel when they close the book. Shock? Pride? Entertained? I often write my last sentence, and then I go back to the beginning, keeping my end goal in mind as I write.
You have two steps done, and now the fun begins. What stories will you tell? How much detail will you share? I often browse my bookshelves and pick up a book that feels just right and use that as a guide to get me started. Then, I list the stories I want to tell, the stories that have the greatest impact, or capture the individual at their very finest. Seldom, however, do those stories easily come to mind, so I’ve developed a set of prompts that can be used as a jumping-off point, and have used it with thousands of people who, like you, want to tell a story but don’t know where to begin.
Trace your hands, or if you can, your subject’s hands, if they will be involved in the project.
On the pinkie finger of the left hand, write the name of the youngest person your subject would like to inspire with their story.
The ring finger is for their love story. It may be painful, it may be 70 years of wedded bliss, but this story will undoubtedly be one of their greatest. If you are writing about a child, tell about something they love to do, or your love for them.
The middle finger is for the biggest obstacle they have overcome, or greatest accomplishment.
The index finger is for a story you (they) want to point out. An opinion or a learning moment worth sharing.
The thumb is a perfect prompt for telling about a hobby, or the work they do in the world.
Moving to the right hand, this thumb can be all about their travels or a life-changing trip that they took.
This index finger is for telling a time when they were number one, perhaps a huge accomplishment. This could also be for the team they love to cheer for above all others. (Think Cats or Griz, that loyalty is a story!)
This middle finger is a great time to tell about someone they admire, someone that showed them the way through life, or, if you are writing this story because your person is fighting a battle right now, tell that story, the story they’re in the middle of living.
The ring finger of this hand is about faith, the values and people who surrounded your person, and helped them to know it is all going to be all right.
The pinkie finger is a story about something small most people do not know about your subject, or a habit that is endearing.
These stories don’t have to be told in order, and most will give you ideas for other stories. Each prompt can be changed to suit the story you want to tell. The point is, if you told these 10 stories, the world would be a richer place for knowing them about your special someone.
If you chose the photo book, find a picture for each story, pop them in the online template, and hit print. You will be glad you did!
If you are writing a book, a real book, and you want others to read it, I have some advice.
1. Set is aside for two weeks, after your initial writing. Let it chill and when you go back to it, you will know the parts you love and hate.
2. Read it aloud, making necessary changes, then ask a friend to read it.
3. Have an editor, a real one, check it for grammar errors, and flow.
4. Publish the book. I know it is scary, but I promise you, the people who will read this book will be glad that you did.
As you think about this project, the person you are writing about, I want you to know that you can do it. It does not have to be overwhelming. It does not have to be perfect. All you need to do is begin. But, before you do, I am going to ask you this: Should the story you write be your story? Is that the story that needs told?
As women, we have lived a lot of life, and have impacted others, but sometimes in an attempt to be humble we forget that we have wisdom to share with others, and I want you to know that your story is probably the most important story you will ever tell.
Go ahead, start writing the book. I can’t wait to read your words.
Do you have a story to tell?
Is there a story, maybe yours, or a loved one's you feel you need to get on paper? Have you asked yourself, 'If I don't tell these stories, who will?' The Book Writer's Club was designed with YOU in mind! Karen Grosz and YVW have joined forces to empower you to take that step with an online class produced in a way that takes you step-by-step through the process of writing a book. From writing prompts and editing tips to keys to self-publishing and advice from established writers, this club is formatted to help you succeed. Take the classes when it fits in to your schedule and then join us for a trio of Zoom meetings on the 7th of each month starting in March. The meetings will help you network with fellow writers, tackle any stumbling blocks and celebrate success! Space is limited.
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