Saturday, 11 July 2015

Keeping Family History Stories Alive through Fiction - Part J

Keeping Family History Stories Alive through Fiction
Part J
"Dr. Bill" Smith

 Do you read short fiction, or just fiction in books?

When most of us think about reading fiction, we normally think about reading books, right? Romance novels, mystery novels, suspense and thrillers - all come mostly in ‘full’ novel length. How about family sagas? Assuming a few of us are still actually reading family saga stories, of course. Dune, The Godfather, The Thorn Birds, … each bring to mind the novel length… sometimes very long novels.

I’ve mentioned before that although I started out writing novels in my “The Homeplace Saga” series of family saga, historical fiction stories, I’ve gone exclusively to writing shorter ‘episodes.’  And now, in recent weeks, I’ve begun to compile those episodes, about 20 at a time, into very readable ‘eBooks’ that I hope will meet the needs of many readers. Your feedback would be valuable to me on this, if you can.

The latest release is actually from the “Weston Wagons West” suite of stories, that actually also tell the story of my mother’s Kinnick surname ancestors. You may recall, in the Weston Wagons West stories, I use the fictional Weston family descendants who ‘live near and interact with’ my ancestors, used fictitiously. It is a fun approach to writing. The original stories were written as the ‘Jx’ episodes at HubPages, online, at:

Now, I have created an eBook of those 20 episodes:

The eBook is available at:

Would you rather have all the 20 episodes together, to read straight through, on your reader of choice? Or, is reading them one by one, online more useful? I like having both options. I hope it is helpful, and not confusing to my readers. Again, your feedback is valuable. I hope it also makes you think about how you might like to tell your stories.

Certainly, I do believe that writing the small, shorter episodes/chapters (about 1,250 words each) is easier than having to put together a 20, 30, or 40,000-word work before you see a ‘final product.’ Maybe my attention span has just gotten shorter. Is it just me, or do you feel somewhat similar?

I hope a few of you will get the eBook, read it, and let me know how you feel about it. That would be very interesting! Thanks, in advance.

From the family saga story-telling point of view, especially for the very early years (1600 through 1800, for example), each episode can focus on ‘one family’ - defined as a married couple and their children, perhaps. Of course, there will be overlap, from episode to episode, as there always is in family stories. Whether or not you include the death of the grandparents in an episode, for instance, can make quite a difference in how you tell your story, and, what you include in each episode. Does that make sense? I think it does. The number of children, and how far they are spread apart, is also an important consideration. Do older children get married before the younger children are born? [My mother once told me she might have had another child (a sixth), until I went and got married - she didn’t want to be a grandmother having a baby. Not a big deal, but an interesting thought, and story.]

If you hadn’t guessed already, I’m trying to get you to thinking about stories you know in your own families, from your research, that you might write as a short story - 1,250 words or so. Are you ready to give it a try? Perhaps you have, already. Did you post it on your blog, or keep it on your computer to ‘think about’ for a while? I think we are making progress here. Be sure to let me know, in the comments.

See you next month! I love to read comments, so please leave one or more, including questions. 

Dr. Bill ;-)


"Dr. Bill" (Wm. L.) Smith can be found regularly at his genealogy blog, "Dr. Bill Tells Ancestor Stories" <> or his family saga blog, "The Homeplace Saga," <>. He is an original contributor, as The Heritage Tourist, to the "In-Depth Genealogy" blog with a monthly column in the "Going In-Depth" digi-mag. He also writes a monthly post for the Worldwide Genealogy Blog.

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