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Breathe Life into Your Life Story: How to Write a Story People Will Want to Read

4.8 out of 5 stars 19 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-1560850946
ISBN-10: 1560850949
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Editorial Reviews

Review

The authors push the aspiring writer to achieve a victory over fear and uncertainty. Breathe Life is a great introduction to writing that even experienced authors will find helpful. It is highly recommended.
--Jeff Needle, AML Reviewer

The authors know the pain of learning to write well and are beside you through the struggle. If you stick with them they will make you a better writer. --Richard Bushman, Gouverneur Morris Professor of History Emeritus, Columbia University

The Thurstons are both experienced writers of family history. Dawn is a writing teacher and Morris a retired lawyer. As a result, this book is unusually creative in trying to teach readers how to write; they have some very good ideas.  --Deseret News

From the Back Cover

"This is a powerful book--and a kindly one. The authors know the pain of learning to write well and are right beside you through the struggle. The may shake you up a little with their concrete, practical recommendations, but if you stick with them they will make you a better writer. You will learn if only by paying attention to their own fluid style. They show as well as tell."
--Richard Bushman, Gouverneur Morris Professor of History Emeritus, Columbia University; recipient of the Bancroft Prize for From Puritan to Yankee: Character and Social Order in Connecticut, 1690-1795

"From a distance, writing looks easy. I know from personal experience it is not. The Thurstons' fun and useful guide to writing a personal history is full of sensible help and upbeat advice. The quotes alone make entertaining reading; but even more, each chapter is loaded with essential guidelines and good ideas, supported by apt examples. The book helps you bring your life into focus to write an engaging story."
--Barbara Renick, professional genealogist and nationally known lecturer; author of Genealogy 101: How to Trace Your Family's History and Heritage
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 228 pages
  • Publisher: Signature Books (July 1, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1560850949
  • ISBN-13: 978-1560850946
  • Product Dimensions: 7 x 0.7 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #669,616 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Where will your memories go when you're gone? If you follow the suggestions in this book, you'll pass them on in a lively form that people will want to read! Moreover, those readers will have a strong sense of your life: what happened to you, how you felt about it, and what you stood for.

This book is fast-paced and fun. Easy-to-follow discussions, examples and learn-by-doing exercises help you organize and write your story. Large margins livened by quotations, titles, and drawings make it easy to refer back after you've finished reading a section - a real plus for seniors!

Breathe Life into Your Life Story will show you how to use fiction-writer techniques to capture and keep reader interest. You'll bring your characters to life by letting them speak for themselves. It'll teach you to write so your readers visualize people and places exactly the way you see them in your mind's eye. Best of all, it will help you write in your own personal voice, and the honesty of that voice will touch your reader's heart.
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Format: Paperback
The Thurstons have written a clever and lively how-to book with the tasty subtitle "How to Write a Story People Will Want to Read." This is harder than you may imagine. Even the most interesting life can be written in a dull, lifeless way. The Thurstons want all of us to know that there are techniques that can be learned, and practiced, in pursuit of a lively, readable story.

Much as an exercise instructor teaches his student to breathe and bend, to twist and turn, the authors transform the awesome task of writing into a series of rhetorical exercises. Step by step, they lead the prospective writer through the steps of building a proficiency in telling the story. They detail the pitfalls many writers face, and explain how to move from envisioning your project to bringing it to completion.

Each lesson has a "Learn by Doing" exercise, designed to hone the skills taught and to give the writer the confidence to move on to the next step in the writing. In the margins are quick inspirations and, at times, hilarious observations by writers we know and respect. ...

Finally, ... the authors take a holistic approach to writing. They insist, and I agree, that one's entire life must go into the project. People who read your life's history want to relive that life with you. They want to walk where you walked, even breathe the air you breathed, as much as is possible through the medium of the printed page. The authors are relentless in pushing the aspiring writer into achieving a great victory over the fear and uncertainty that face new writers.

"Breathe Life into Your Life Story" is a great introduction to writing that even experienced authors will find helpful.... Maybe we should be aiming at developing the confidence, and the skills, required to pen an exciting autobiography. This book is an excellent place to start. It is highly recommended.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I've purchased a few books in the personal history genre as gifts for friends and family. When I decided to start writing my own story, I reviewed what was available and then choose Morris Thurston's book. I'm glad I did. I'm rating this five stars even though I'm less than half way through the book so far. I do this in good conscience because I've already gained far more than I expected from the entire volume.

If taken seriously, Thurston's book is not light reading because he gives assignments that take time. I have found these assignments interesting and beneficial. This is a book one must work through rather than simply read. The benefits received will be directly proportional to the effort expended.

There are a number of products available to help people remember and record their past. While Thurston touches on the subject of recalling memories, his emphasis goes beyond that. He maintains is that it is not enough to recount memories, rehash facts, or preach wisdom. Rather, Thurston says authors will not make an impact unless they hold their readers' interest. And in order to do so, Thurston recommends understanding and employing effective story telling techniques as used by good, professional writers. In doing so, Thurston does not suggest fabricating experiences. He simply encourages and shows authors how to tell their own experiences in an interesting way.

You don't have to be a professional writer to benefit from Thurston's book. I'm no pro, and I have no ambition of sharing my (ordinary) story with anyone other than my descendents. But I didn't want to risk the effort of writing a life history without it having much impact on anyone. So I am taking his recommendations to heart.

I believe Mark Twain once said something like, "Of course, truth is stranger than fiction -- fiction has to make sense." Thurston shows authors how to tell their life stories in a way that makes sense.
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Format: Paperback
Writing teacher Dawn Thurston and award-winning ancestral biographer Morris Thurston present Breathe Life Into Your Life Story: How to Write a Story People Will Want to Read, a no-nonsense guide to crafting an engaging autobiography. memoir or personal history. Chapters cover how to write at the gut level and reveal one's feelings, what to do and not do when writing about specific places, connecting the events of one's life to history, using suspense and conflict to draw the reader further in, and much more. A wealth of "learn-by-doing" exercises round out this excellent self-improvement guide highly recommended for would-be biographers, and also packed with valuable tips, trips and techniques for aspiring writers of fields.
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