Researching ancestors leaves us feeling as if they are living people sitting next to us. In fact, our ancestors are very much in the past. Every action we attribute to them should be with a past tense verb, such as:
Do a “find” for present tense verbs in your writing to see how it creeps in.
Worse, is when we don’t make our ancestors the focus of their actions. This shows up in our use of passive voice.
- John was named after his father, John.
- They were getting to America by boat.
- The land was deeded to Mary.
Give our ancestors their power back. Here’s the action way to write the above:
- John named his son, John.
- The family sailed to America.
- Mary bought the land.
Ancestor writing = focus on past actions.