Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Interview Complete - Now what?

Congratulations! You have taken the first step and interviewed a parent, grandparent, neighbor, or friend. Maybe you've used a tape recorder. Perhaps a video camera. Or maybe you just typed the information in question and answer form, onto your laptop. In any case, you've taken that first very important step. Now you have the information. But what will you do with it.

Think like a publisher. What is the best way to show off your work, honor the person you interviewed, and at the same time, create a living memory that will be enjoyed generations from now? Below are a few suggestions;

Write it up
Even if you have the interview on video or audio tape, those mediums are notorious for not standing the test of time. In addition, people are more likely to pull up the written form and read it than go find the video of it. Of course, you should keep the tape too; in years to come it will be priceless to see/hear the person you are interviewing. So how do you go about writing something like this up, you might ask. There are a few choices.
  • Word for Word - Go through the interview and write down the exact words of your questions and the exact words of the response. For example;

Q: What year were you born?

A: 1855 (haha)

  • Life Story Form- This is a bit more time intensive, but turns out nicely. Beginning at the...well-beginning, write the story of your subject's life. To make it more interesting, look for themes. Was the person shy, and this affected them throughout their life? Was he always interested in trains? Weave that into the story. You may find that you need more detail, and will have to go back with a new list of questions, but it'll be well worth the effort.
  • A Piece of the Story - If the information you've collected is more anecdotal, you will probably want to write it up as such. For example, if Aunt Mabel just told you a specific story about the time she won the pie baking contest, you probably want to write that up as a small piece of the puzzle of her life. Be sure to date it. Then when you interview her again, you can put the pieces together. Which brings me to my last point.

When I titled this post, "Interveiw Complete" it was a bit of a lie. You're never done interviewing. There is always one more story. So look for parts of your interview that aren't complete. Notice the small stories that could splinter off from this one. If you don't see any, then look to someone else you can interview. Ask your aunt or uncle, what your mom was really like. Different perspectives mean that your story is more real, more cohesive.

But above all, Write Now-Because it's later than you think. ~Karen


Eileen said...

Hello Karen, Thank you for this post because it is actually very useful to me. Last year while in States, I did several interviews with several people - and now I'm not sure what is transcribed, what isn't. So need to update myself on that. Thanks for this post. It's the little nudge I need to move ahead. And see what gaps there are, who to interview next time I'm home. =) EE

Karen L. Alaniz said...

Hi Eileen- You are welcome. Glad you can use the information. That's what it's all about, after all. And I do think we ALL need that nudge. It is so easy to procrastinate and put it off for "tomorrow." But sometimes "tomorrow" is too late. Keep up the good work, friend! ~Karen