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4.8: History

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    People tend to take history rather seriously (which is why we are adding it to our essay), but from a writer’s perspective, history is essentially a narrative that thinks of itself as fact. In other words, history is structured like narrative: a beginning, middle, and end (we are always at the end in history), and a sequence of events. It tends to cover larger chunks of time, however, than narrative. Remember how your narrative (anecdote) was written about a single time (one day, for example). History is simply a series of single times. History is more or less a series of anecdotes that cover 3 or more single times.

    Most Common Question: “How do I ‘connect’ 3 separate anecdotes or make 3 separate anecdotes ‘flow’?”

    The answer to this question is found in the way people “fill in the blanks” when reading narrative. If I tell you three (or more) stories about myself, you draw conclusions about me. Choosing anecdotes about an object or place may seem random (it may even BE random), but readers generally see connections implicit in narratives grouped together. Transitions between your anecdotes are not necessary, unless you later think adding transitions adds to the effect of the entire essay.

    To accomplish a history as it is defined above, our task is simple. Create 3 new anecdotes. These will follow the same rules as narratives (see Narrative section). Be careful and make sure that you tell 3 new anecdotes; these new anecdotes need only have your place/object in common. Do not consciously connect them otherwise (as a reader, I will connect them automatically). The additional rules will be

    1. That the new anecdotes are in chronological order and,
    2. That they should be limited to no more than half a page or so each.

    Later, you may insert your original anecdote at the appropriate place in the history, if you so wish.

    These new anecdotes should not have any “transition” phrases; they should each be in one paragraph (don’t worry if each paragraph seems long; that is the nature of history in some cases – long winded). Think of “the first time” you were associated with the object/place to help you get started on the first anecdote. 

    Picturing History as anecdotes:

    $$\text{History = Anecdote 1 + Anecdote 2 + Anecdote 3}$$

    You may tell a history about any object or place this way. When you have a history constructed, you may add it to the other elements in your personal writing. When you finish ALL the elements, you may then arrange elements for greatest effect.

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