Getting Started

It can sometimes be difficult to know how to get started or how long to make your story for the 400 Stories Project. To help with that, here are a few suggestions. However, please do not hesitate to reach out if you have any questions or need some additional help. You can always email and we will try to reply within 48 hours.

When telling a story or interviewing to gather a story, think about the uniqueness of the person you are writing about or interviewing. If you are writing your own story, think about your uniqueness. Think about the person’s history – was she born in Gloucester? Did he immigrate to Gloucester, when and from where? Think about a person’s special connection to Gloucester.

That can be the heart of your story.

Decide who to interview or who to write about. You can interview or write about anyone: a loved one, someone you’d like to know better, someone you admire. Listening when interviewing or writing about someone is honoring them.


If you are interviewing, arrange a time when both you and your interview partner will be relaxed. Choose a quiet, comfortable place – indoors – where you won’t be interrupted. We suggest you plan 30-45 minutes for an interview. During this COVID-19 pandemic, please be sure to be safe by using online platforms for the interview such as FaceTime, Zoom, or other electronic options. If you are able to be together, please be sure to wear masks and social distance. Be sure you have our Consent and Release Forms completed giving you permission to interview and Gloucester 400 to use and publish the interview.

You can create your own interview questions or use questions from Our Suggested List.


If you are writing a story, consider gathering information and ideas from original documents, mini-interviews, photos, artifacts, family or history records, heirlooms, and so forth. Have fun searching through an attic, old family trunk, or walking the streets of those who have gone before you. Get lost in the archives of a library or museum or a good book about the period of time that interests you. Be sure you have our Consent and Release Forms completed as appropriate.

You can focus your story on one aspect of a person’s life, a particular experience, or a range of vignettes.

You could also use our Suggested Writing Prompts or Topics. Be creative!

When submitting your story or interview, please include the following at the end of your submission:

  1. Your name and contact information
  2. Your relationship with the person interviewed or whose story you’re telling. This should also be included right in the story or interview.
  3. In general terms, what sources did you use for this story or interview to prepare you, i.e. newspapers, family documents, and so forth.

Themes to Consider in a Story

  1. Who is she/he? What is her/his essence?
  2. What was her/his contribution to the City of Gloucester? What did she/he do? (A person’s contribution can be anything from growing up, raising children, to establishing a business and so forth.)
  3. What is her/his legacy to the City of Gloucester?

Stories of individual people and groups of people are intended to be historical in nature and celebratory while acknowledging with respect, if appropriate, the “sins of the past.”

It is expected that stories will be truthful. Yet, truth is many sided. Understanding that everybody tells stories with their version of the truth, which is also representative of Gloucester’s diversity, we ask that people ensure the accuracy of information in the stories they submit.