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    « How to Gather Stories for Your Memoir or Family History | Main | Organizing a Memoir Writers’ Group »

    Tribute Books: Honoring People You Love and Admire

    Tribute books are written to express appreciation. They may focus on the positive influence of a person on your life, or focus on their accomplishments. In many cases both topics are combined. These books are often created to commemorate a milestone or special occasion like a retirement, a fiftieth anniversary, or a special accomplishment like winning an award. Tributes can celebrate the success of a group, a business, or an organization, rather than an individual. Another type of tribute book is written to preserve the memory of a person who has died, focusing on their special traits and the contributions they made to the lives of others. Tribute books are sometimes created by a group with each member contributing their story. 

    The tone of a tribute book is positive, capturing your subject’s admirable traits and accomplishments. Unlike memoirs, negative stories are not included, even at a sacrifice of truthfulness. The most effective tributes make use of memorable anecdotes, touching, or humorous events that reveal the kind of person the subject is. Choose stories that demonstrate to the reader what your subject has done to make you appreciate, admire or love them. After all, “actions speak louder than words.” You can also discuss your relationship to the person and the ways in which he / she influenced you. 

    There are many ways to generate ideas for your tribute book. Here are a few you may want to consider:

    • Create a list of lessons learned from the person.How did you learn the lesson? Try to think of an incident or an anecdote that illustrates how you learned the lesson.
    • Interview other people who know your subject.Explain that you are creating a tribute to the person and ask them to tell their positive stories. Emphasize the importance of recalling story details, and record them for accuracy.
    • Research and include any media your subject appeared in. If you are highlighting a person’s accomplishments, this will enrich your account. Most local libraries have microfilm of old newspapers and increasingly records are available online.
    • You may also want to scan documents like awards or letters to illustrate your tribute.
    • Interview the person about whom you are writing. Ask about some of the stories you want to include in the book. You’ll gain insights you may not have considered. You can also get your subject’s opinion about their most important accomplishments and values.

    Some excellent examples of tribute books include:

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