1. Psychotrshman
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    Psychotrshman Member

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    Putting Journal Entries In A Book

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Psychotrshman, Jun 11, 2012.

    Good morning everyone,

    I'm having an issue with this particular part of my novel. The entire story is built around the translation of a journal written by an ancient Native American warrior. I feel that the best way to "reveal" the journals contents is by inserting chapters throughout the novel that are full of excerpts from this characters journal building up to the MC's "ah ha" moment.

    When writing the journal entries, should I write these as though they are actual journal entries (somewhat sporadic as though thoughts are being dumped on to paper) or should it be more structured like the rest of the novel is? To me the journal entries should read/feel like that persons personal thoughts dumped out. Any suggestions or advice is greatly appreciated.
     
  2. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    just write the actual journal entries verbatim and insert them as block indents...
     
  3. E.Thomas
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    E.Thomas Member

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    write the journal entries, check out The Mayan Prophecy by Steve Alten he puts entries in his book throughout.
     
  4. ithestargazer
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    ithestargazer Active Member

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    I've seen it done a few ways. Some books have them at the beginning of chapters, some have them italicized (which I don't necessarily recommend), some indented as blocks as Maia suggested above. The most effective way I've read is the simplest, just a space with a Dear Diary -esque type signpost.

    If you're writing from a Native-American warrior's POV it may also help to take into account the way in which they would have written diary entries. Just a thought.
     
  5. growingpains
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    growingpains Member

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    I've done something like this where the journal entries were written as the thoughts were dumped out on paper. That's the way most people write journal entries, so it'd make it more realistic to do it that way. When I wrote my own novel this way, I put a journal entries as a separate chapter. It was a short chapter, of course, more like: Chapter 13.5 (.5 being the journal entries) and the entry provided insight for whatever I wrote into the chapter. The entry gave a bit of foreshadowing, if you will.
     
  6. Psychotrshman
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    Psychotrshman Member

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    Thanks for all the suggestions! :) I will definately have to check out The Mayan Prophecy, the synopsis sounds interesting!

    I think I’m going to go with this method. To me, a journal would have a few random tidbits about the characters life that didn’t pertain to the story. With the character type and the time period, I think that starting an entry with something pointless meant to remind the character of something would add authenticity to it, as long as it’s short and off topic. I don't want to drag it out to where the reader gets lost.

    I don't think the .5 option or starting each chapter with a small excerpt will work too well since the non .5 numbered chapters wouldn’t pertain to that journal entry. The events unfolding throughout the Journal entries are a separate storyline arc that ties into the main storyline as it nears the climax. My thought was that separate smaller chapters would help to distinguish the two stories until they merge. Once the main character translates enough of the journal that he has what he needs, there will be a slight recap of the entries the reader has already seen, just to connect the dots, followed by the portion that was just translated. I envision writing the reveal in a format similar to this (it won’t be italicized in the novel):

    “First sentence, Chapter 2… First sentence, Chapter 4… First sentence, Chapter 6… Recently completed translation revealing key information.”

    I’m open to suggestions about whether that is the worst idea ever or if it might actually work. The MC gets injured and uses the time where he’s under the weather to finish translating. He then re-reads everything that he has wrote down including the new part to make sure he understands what it means. What’s your opinion: Should I assume that by this point, the reader has realized that the journal excerpts are from the one the MC is working on and skip the above part; opting instead for a “Then he read the book from the beginning…” type sentence? Or should I include the above reveal just to ensure they understand what the journal chapters are? Maybe a better option would be combining the two layouts together to make it flow better?

    I have a pretty good feel for the rest of the novels layout, but these journal entries and how to handle them are giving me fits. Haha. I’m open to any criticism, suggestions, advice that any one might have from their experiences or from things they have read. Thanks again for all the suggestions so far. ;)
     

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