Contradiction creates the interest in a great story.
The Australian heroine and most decorated servicewomen of WWII, Nancy Wake, recently died at he age of 98 in London. This diminutive old lady, once a beautiful young woman, was the Gestapo’s most wanted person with a 5-million-franc price on her head and thought nothing of killing Nazis to aid the Allies.
Imagine your Great/Grandmother slitting a Nazi guard’s throat!
Think for a moment of the great stories you know like this one of Nancy Wake. Better still, think of the great story that you’re digging into as you create this Life Story project.
It’s the tension, contradiction or conflict in someone’s story that makes it truly engaging. It doesn’t matter who it is, if all you see is all there is, then the story is self evident and it doesn’t have any real interest. But no one is that shallow!
Everyone has something about them that will surprise you if you take the time to dig around to discover it. Particularly if they’re family.
It’s only when you poke around that you start to realise that there are aspects of family members that you never realised, that is in contradiction to your perception of who you thought they were.
It’s the contrast between what you know and what isn’t self evident that makes an interesting story.
Discover what you don’t know
Write down five things that sum them up as a person. Then see if you can find some things that are a juxtapose to those things. Something that is different to what is expected.
Chances are, like The Little Mouse, when you look into their youth there will be things that will surprise you, maybe even in contradiction with the person you know. That’s what will make an intriguing Life Story.