I was looking through my old military files and presentation materials and found a bibliography I created when I published my books Stories of the Lost and The Tiger’s Widow.
When we write the stories of our ancestors, it is not only genealogy and military records that we use to research and create those stories. Reading background materials, watching films, reading old newspapers, listening to oral histories also play a role. Military records and family stories with grains of truth can only take us so far.
To create an interesting story that someone will want to read beyond a couple of pages, requires us to add emotion and depth. To not just talk about the Battle of the Bulge and say it was cold. Instead, do some historical research beyond the military records and learn how cold it was, how deep the snow was, what came before (miserable rain and muddy conditions). Describe these things in your story so the reader feels like they could be there. Describe it so the reader shivers a little from the cold and feels that emotional connection to the service member.
When you write about women in particular, read books about women who served, but do not just stick to the specific branch or job of your female subject. If you are writing about a Women’s Army Corps (WAC) service member, then also read what it was like for Army Nurses and other women in the field. Not only will you learn more about women’s service but also form additional questions you can ask about your subject. Overseas WACs may have worked in some way with Army Nurses or had contact from time to time and shared stories. It’s vital to explore outside the box and all perspectives possible when writing.
The main point is to think and research outside the box. There are so many amazing resources available to you which will enhance your story. Don’t our ancestors deserve to have their stories told in a way others will want to read them?
If you would like to explore some of the materials I used to write my two story books, you may download that bibliography here.
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