Are you having success in writing your family history? As we gather more information, it does become challenging to incorporate those facts in the stories that our relatives and descendants will find interesting. Speaking for myself, I have discovered (rediscovered) interesting tidbits as I continue to update my source information and scan those random notes and papers that we genealogist accumulate. This week let’s look at some writing tools and resources to help us write our story.
The November 2021 issue of Internet Genealogy includes reviews of two tools that writers from all fields might find useful. It is worth reading the full articles as they delve into each of these in detail.
Home - Plottr
This tool helps you plan out your story or book by providing timelines, plots, character notes etc. While this may seem like a tool for someone who is drafting a novel, we can take advantage of these templates to keep track of our “characters,” places, events, and timelines. Plottr is not designed as a one stop shop to write your story but instead to help you with the planning and outline process. You can export information from Plottr into Word. Instead of having more pieces of paper to track as you figure out how you are telling your family history, you have it online and organized. There are online training and tutorials to help you get started too. At the time of this blog, the price is $25.00 for one year for one device which seems quite reasonable. They do appear to have an option to try before you purchase too.
Popplet | Mind maps made easy
Popplet provides an easy way to use visual components such as mind maps, flowcharts, timelines and more to help you innovate. While you could create something similar using a program like Microsoft Project, this is geared towards all skill levels. You create “Popples”—basically boxes which can hold, text, photos, and videos. This might be useful when delving into an individual ancestor’s life. By visually looking at the information that you have, you can start to format the direction you want to take research or your writing. You can export information to be printed. Popplet has a trial version as well as a paid version.
For those of you who can’t get enough of research, FamilyTree Magazine has an excellent article about free genealogy sites.
Best Free Genealogy and Family History Websites (familytreemagazine.com)
In addition to the usual suspects, there are some free tools noted in the article. I especially appreciate the listing of international genealogy sites. I know I will be spending some time exploring this useful list.
This coming week, if you can pull yourself away from researching your family, pick one ancestor and write their story. Or if that seems too overwhelming, try one of these tools and start a timeline or a visual mind map. You’ll learn more about your ancestor as a person than you had before, and you’ll have made a start in writing your family history. Happy Writing!
With a lifelong passion for genealogy and history, the author enjoys the opportunity to share genealogy tidbits, inspiring others to research and write their family story.