Obituaries can be challenging to write. There’s no introduction, no big reveal, and no happy ending. You can’t use subplots or cliffhangers; you have only a few short paragraphs to tell the whole story of someone’s life. It’s not the kind of writing most writers want to tackle on a regular basis. But that doesn’t mean obituaries are hard to write. In fact, they can be some of the most memorable stories you ever produce as a writer. They give you an opportunity to put your storytelling skills to work in ways that make readers smile, laugh, cry… and remember. These articles are some of our favorites from PLS Writing Community members who tackled obituaries with wit and heart.
Obituaries are brief articles that commemorate the lives of people who have recently died. They are published in newspapers and other periodicals and online. Although obituaries are usually associated with the death of famous people, they are also written about people who have had an impact on their communities or have achieved something significant. Obituaries are written for two reasons: to inform readers about people who have recently died and to serve as a record of the person’s life. They are meant to be a truthful account of what a person’s life was like.
When someone dies, they leave behind a story that is often as compelling as their life. Sometimes the best way to tell that story is through an obituary. To write a compelling obituary, you need to find a story in the tragedy. You need to find something remarkable in the person’s life that makes it worth remembering and writing about. You might think that will be difficult if your subject was an ordinary person. But it isn’t. With just a little thought, you can find a story in almost anyone’s life. Just start with the details of your subject’s life and ask yourself: What was special about their childhood? What unusual experiences did they have? What made them a success in life? Did they overcome a difficult obstacle or challenge? Did they have a happy marriage and family life? Did they have a job that had special meaning for them? Did they have any unusual hobbies or pastimes?
The best obituaries are honest and factual. They are not meant to be a eulogy or a celebration. Your job is to write the facts of your subject’s life as accurately and honestly as possible. But there is always more to learn about someone’s life, and that can be the most fascinating part of writing an obituary. As you research your subject’s life, you may find unexpected surprises that make their story even more interesting. You may discover interesting details or discover the significance of seemingly unimportant facts.
If you’re having trouble finding a story in the tragedy, ask yourself if there is any way you can make the facts of your subject’s life more interesting or significant. If your subject lived an ordinary life, look for ways to make it more interesting. What made their life successful, no matter how ordinary it may have seemed? What challenges did they overcome? Did they have any notable accomplishments or hobbies? What about their family or career is memorable? Did they have any unusual relationships with other people? Did they have a special talent, ability, or skill that made them stand out? Did they do something significant for the community or other people?
Obituaries are written to help people remember someone who has died. Your job is to make that person’s life memorable and help readers to connect with them as a human being. To do that, you need to weave your facts into a story that has a beginning, middle, and end. You need to build drama and tension so readers feel something as they read the story of your subject’s life. You can do this with a simple formula: Start with a scene or experience that illustrates your subject’s personality or something significant about their life.
Obituaries are challenging and important pieces of writing. They are often the first and last words readers will have about the life of someone who has died. An obituary is meant to be factual, but it should also be engaging, touching, and memorable. It should celebrate the life of the person who has died and make us appreciate their accomplishments and contributions to the world. In short, it should make us feel something and help us remember the person who has died. If you have been given the task of writing an obituary for a relative or someone else, it may feel daunting. Visit the Toledo Blade obituaries to see some of the examples. There are many ways to make the stories of these people memorable. All you need to do is find the right details and tell the stories of these lives honestly and powerfully.