Family History for Writing Inspiration

To go along with this month’s theme of historical fiction, last week’s prompt asked what time periods you like to read about in fiction. This week’s prompt encourages to look for story ideas closer to home. Delving into family history for writing inspiration, whether it’s researching a family story or learning about genealogy, can give you the spark for a unique story.

One family story that has always intrigued me was one my maternal grandmother told us. One of her distant grandfathers–she wasn’t sure who–had supposedly married a woman who was a Russian Jew and lived in Harrisburg, PA. They had four children, two boys and two girls and were possibly living in West Virginia. The marriage broke up. The woman took the two girls back to Harrisburg, while her grandfather kept the boys. He remarried and had other children. My grandmother didn’t know if we were descended from the children of the first marriage or the second.

This story provokes all kinds of questions. What would it have been like before the Civil War for a Christian to marry a Jew? Had the wife converted? What broke up the marriage? Did the father ever see his daughters again? Did the mother see her sons? Lots of questions here to fuel a fiction story.

Now it’s your turn. What family history do you know that can inspire stories?

For more historical fiction prompts, click here.

4 thoughts on “Family History for Writing Inspiration

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  1. More Than Grit, is entirely inspired by family stories of the Great Depression. I’m thankful for a heritage of strong grandparents whose lives were anchored in the church and the Lord.

    1. I’ve found family members inspiring characters without me realizing it. Our family heritage has enormous influence, both good and bad, on who we are.

  2. Oooh, that is a juicy family history!!!
    My grandfather’s mother died during a miscarriage when my grandpa was a little boy. Later his father remarried, but the new wife hated the farm life and wasn’t crazy about the naughty sons of her husband, so she left on a rainy day. Nobody in our family knows much about where she went or what she did after, but it’s something that comes up often at family gatherings. I hadn’t thought about this becoming inspiration for a story, but you definitely have a knack for spurring the imagination 🙂

    1. Very interesting. Great raw material for a story. And I often wonder, if the family story is very old, how much information gets lost or garbled as the story is handed down.

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