1. LeeBookProject
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    LeeBookProject Member

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    Diary transcribing

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by LeeBookProject, May 5, 2014.

    Hello everyone,

    I am in the middle of transcribing my diary which covers many years as I would like to share my personal experiences. I initially just tried to write it and change the tense (so it looked like I was writing it now). I did a little test but when I read it back all the emotion seemed to have drained out of it.

    So I have decided to transcribe it, with no tense changes and add commentary and link the past to the current where I think I need to.

    I was wondering though, when people write about their own stories, do they move sections around so to help the reader wonder, what's happening?, why is this happening?, how is he going to get out of that? If I did everything chronologically then I feel it may reveal things too early. And I would like to insert as many cliff hangers and unanswered questions as I can early on and throughout. I have a few I can dig out.

    Thanks

    Lee
     
    Last edited: May 5, 2014
  2. Mike Kobernus
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    Mike Kobernus Contributing Member

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    This is an interesting idea.

    I have used journal extracts in a novel, and I like the method. I interposed direct quotes from the 'journal' with general prose. I also contrasted elements from the journals with first person narratives where the events were re-lived.

    I imagine that there are any number of ways you could do this. But I personally feel that a diary by itself would be too dry. Of course, that depends on how you write.

    But consider the possibility of developing a story that is then supported and supplemented by the diary. Epistolary writing was big back in the Victorian age...time for a comeback?
     
  3. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    do the requisite research... see how successful authors have handled their 'epistolary' and autobiographical works... you should find a way that works best for your story...
     
  4. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    A better way might be to use the diary itself as your primary source material and write from your current perspective.
     
  5. LeeBookProject
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    LeeBookProject Member

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    I found this book that uses diary entries, emails, receipts etc so I have ordered it, will read it and teach myself this interesting writing form.

    Almost Like Being in Love by Steve Kruger

    EdFromNK,

    This was where I was heading with this, I was just going to comment on my diary entries. I will read this book above first and see what best fits my need and new/limited writing ability.

    Thanks

    Lee
     
  6. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    @LeeBookProject - I actually did not mean simply commenting on your diary entries. I meant writing your story as a narrative, using your diary as a source for information. As noted by others, the epistolary style can be very limiting, keeping the reader at a distance. Writing your story as a true narrative would make it easier for you to put the reader in your shoes, which is what we usually want to do. It also would allow to weave your current comments into the story in a much more seamless manner. Just a thought.
     
  7. LeeBookProject
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    LeeBookProject Member

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    @EdFromNK - Yes I definitely would like the reader to emotionally connect with my story. So perhaps the narrative route is better for me, this book is quite funny so am going to finish it while I research how to construct a narrative from my own timeline of events.

    Actually, what you have described, is that an autobiography?

    Also, when I tried to rewrite a diary entry as a test, it seemed to lose something. Hence for my post. I am going a bit around in circles. But I will do some more research and read this book.

    Cheers

    Lee
     
  8. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    That would depend on how much of your life was included. If it was most of your life, then yes. At any rate, it is autobiographical.

    I would think that it would - for you. Because when you read your own diary entries, it brings you directly back to your own personal experience. For many years, I coached my son's youth soccer teams, and because I was learning the game and the coaching of it as I went along, I kept journals of most of my seasons. When I go back and read from them, I am immediately transported back to that time and place, even if I haven't thought about it for years. My personal experience is refreshed in my own memory, even if the memory has been distorted over time. I experience anew what I experienced then. But if you were to read them, you wouldn't have that experience. Because you weren't there, and there are no dormant memories to be revived. Instead, you have only my reportage, without the benefit of additional perspective.

    If I were to rewrite my journals into a single, unified narrative, it would lose something for me, because it would put greater distance between where I stand now and what I experienced back then. But for you, it would establish context and depth as I explained to you what I never needed to explain to myself.

    Another example from the most frequent form of modern epistolary writing - the sports diary. The first one, and still arguably the best, was Jim Brosnan's The Long Season, published in 1960 about the 1959 baseball season. Brosnan felt he'd learned so much about writing that he penned another three years later, entitled Pennant Race. Because it was his second such book, it lacked a lot of the contemplative passages of the first book and focused more on the immediacy of what was happening to his team at the time, and that deprived it of perspective. At mid-season, Brosnan was overlooked in the selections for the National League All-Star team, a slight that hurt him far more deeply than I would have expected. In fact, it permeated the rest of the diary and became (for me, at least) tiresome. But then, he was writing every day, struggling with the disappointment every day, trying to get past it and failing. Had he written about it years after the fact, he would have been able to put it in perspective, but writing a diary, he couldn't do that. And I really think the book suffered for it (by the late August entries, I found myself saying, "Enough already!").

    Dave DeBusschere's The Open Man, a diary about the first NY Knicks championship team in 1970, is still a wonderfully emotional read for me, not because it's so well written or even that it holds much perspective, but because I followed that team on a daily basis and can personally relate to most of the events described. When I read DeBusschere's entries, I am transported back. But only because I was a 16-year-old fan in New York at the time it was written.
     
  9. LeeBookProject
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    Thank you.

    No I don't want to tell someone about my whole life. But I have specific events that are connected over many years that are not boring and contained in my diary and other emails and paperwork etc. So I am trying to pull this altogether, emotionally touching the reader as much as possible.

    I am in the middle of going through my old diaries and creating a narrative. Then I will come back here and seek some advice on next steps. But I see now what I was experiencing was because I am in my own story. And my job on my writing project is to put the reader where I was, not simply to recite a diary with additional comments looking back.

    Thanks

    Lee
     
  10. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    On the nose! :D

    Good luck with it.
     
  11. LeeBookProject
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    LeeBookProject Member

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    @Mike Kobernus @mammamaia

    Hi, just a quick thanks for your replies also. You have all helped me focus my research.

    Lee
     
  12. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    what you're describing would likely be considered a 'memoir'... check out some by successful authors and see if that's what you want... david niven's are among the best, so check out 'the moon's a balloon' and 'bring on the empty horses'...
     
  13. LeeBookProject
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    Will do, thanks @mammamaia.
    Lee
     
  14. sunsplash
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    sunsplash Bona fide beach bum

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    I've been working on a memoir for over a year and half now and let me tell you, it's exhausting. I've started over multiple times...not just editing but completely scrapping. One thing you need to be careful of while writing something like this is to keep reader engaged without exaggerating events. What might be interesting, exciting, and emotional to you because you lived it, doesn't always translate to the reader in the same way and a creative writer by nature can tweak factual details without even realizing. It's no easy task to translate your feelings and memories to the page so that the reader feels as affected (or at least can understand your reactions/thoughts) as you did in the moment. Good luck!
     
  15. LeeBookProject
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    LeeBookProject Member

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    @sunplash thanks for the advice, I will keep this in mind. I have had look at a few memoirs via the Amazon preview, this is exactly what I am after.

    Thanks

    Lee
     
  16. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    lee...
    avoid kindle previews unless the author is well known as a good writer in the literary world [don't go by amazon reviews], since so the majority of self-published books are poorly written and their rave reviews are by the authors themselves, or their friends and family...

    to be on the safe side, stick to only books published by major paying publishers, that have been ny times bestsellers and are respected by professional literary critics...
     
  17. LeeBookProject
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    LeeBookProject Member

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    Ok, will do @mammamaia I will remember your advice during my future research. Lee
     

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