EIGHT GREAT QUESTIONS FOR YOUR STORY
In recent posts, I wrote that creating lists, identifying a theme, preparing timelines and doing research are good steps toward creating your own personal history. Next, I was going to share information about picking out a format for your story.
Instead, I decided to share a list of important questions to think about for your story first. If you are working on someone else’s story, using these questions during an interview would be sure to elicit interesting and vital information to telling the story.
- What have been the key turning points in your life? In what way?
- Who are the people in your life who have helped make you who you are and in what way? Think about parents, mentors, teachers, even bullies.
- What have been your greatest accomplishments and why? What did you do to achieve them?
- What have been the great disappointments in your life? How did you deal with them?
- What would you do differently if you had the chance? Why?
- What lessons have you learned in life?
- What values do you want to share?
- What do you want your family to know about your life?
Be sure to dig deep when answering these questions. Gently push for more information, either from yourself or from your subject. Include thoughts like ‘How did that make you feel?’ or ‘Then what?’
These questions will draw information much more fulfilling than questions such as ‘Where were you born?’ Those questions are important, too. They’re just unlikely to be the heart of your story. Incorporating both will create a multi-faceted life story, doing justice to your subject.
Next time, I’m going to talk about how to address hard times or difficult questions. SPOILER ALERT: I’m not going suggest ignoring them. Stay tuned!
Remember, if at any point in the process you get stuck or overwhelmed, you can always turn to a professional for assistance or to take over the whole project. For a list of personal historians in your area, visit the website of the Association of Personal Historians at personalhistorians.org.
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