1. Shinn
    Offline

    Shinn Banned

    Joined:
    Jan 1, 2008
    Messages:
    925
    Likes Received:
    5
    Location:
    New Zealand

    Story based on letters & diary entries

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Shinn, Jun 9, 2010.

    Hey all.

    I'm currently writing a Second World War historical fiction book that is based on "letters" and "diary entries" from a soldier who goes through the following campaigns; North Africa, Tunisia, Italy, Normandy, Holland and Germany. I was wondering if books based on letters and diaries are popular to read? :)
     
  2. Honorius
    Offline

    Honorius Active Member

    Joined:
    Apr 3, 2008
    Messages:
    1,449
    Likes Received:
    3
    Location:
    Thebes
    I don't know about popular (mostly due to there being relatively few of them), but I have seen fairly successful ones, such as Ella Minnow Pea. So people do enjoy them.
     
  3. Shinn
    Offline

    Shinn Banned

    Joined:
    Jan 1, 2008
    Messages:
    925
    Likes Received:
    5
    Location:
    New Zealand
    Cheers for the info Honorius :)
     
  4. TheMarine
    Offline

    TheMarine New Member

    Joined:
    Jun 8, 2010
    Messages:
    11
    Likes Received:
    0
    I haven't seen multiple books out their composed of only diary entries and journals, but I have read "The Diary of a Young Girl" and "Ella Minnow Pea" and highly enjoyed both of them. I think that a book written with entries though over World War II (since everyone is interested in war, at least I am) would be highly interesting and an enjoyable read as well.

    Good luck! :)
     
  5. thirdwind
    Offline

    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 17, 2008
    Messages:
    7,351
    Likes Received:
    2,893
    Location:
    Boston
    The Color Purple comes to mind. The story is told through a series of letters and diary entries. I can't think of any other example, but there is no reason why something like this can't work.
     
  6. Thanshin
    Offline

    Thanshin Active Member

    Joined:
    Jun 1, 2010
    Messages:
    564
    Likes Received:
    13
    Location:
    Spain
    I do like epistolary stories. They allow very strong sensations of mystery and tension in the time leaps between two messages.
     
  7. Tamsin
    Offline

    Tamsin Senior Member

    Joined:
    Dec 25, 2009
    Messages:
    154
    Likes Received:
    3
    Location:
    Singapore
    We Need to Talk About Kevin is an excellent novel and an international best seller, all written in letters. The Color Purple is another example. Frankenstein starts with a series of letters. If it is done well it is a great form to use for a novel. Good luck with it :)
     
  8. Humour Whiffet
    Offline

    Humour Whiffet Banned

    Joined:
    Sep 20, 2009
    Messages:
    188
    Likes Received:
    10
    Location:
    United Kingdom
    Yes, it can work. A good example is the 2008 Booker Prize winner White Tiger.
     
  9. Lemex
    Offline

    Lemex That's Lord Lemex to you. Contributor

    Joined:
    Oct 2, 2007
    Messages:
    10,507
    Likes Received:
    3,151
    Location:
    Northeast England
    A Stephen King short story is also wrote in for form of diary entries.

    I can't remember what it was called, it was good though.
     
  10. Cogito
    Offline

    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    May 19, 2007
    Messages:
    35,935
    Likes Received:
    2,043
    Location:
    Massachusetts, USA
    Mary Shelley's Frankenstein is written in epistolary form.
     
  11. Afterburner
    Offline

    Afterburner Active Member

    Joined:
    Jul 4, 2008
    Messages:
    205
    Likes Received:
    2
    Location:
    North Carolina
    The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis is a really good book, which is comprised of fictional letters between demons.
     
  12. Anonym
    Offline

    Anonym Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Jan 16, 2010
    Messages:
    292
    Likes Received:
    10
    I believe Bram Stoker's Dracula was written that way.
     
  13. lovely
    Offline

    lovely Member

    Joined:
    Jan 6, 2009
    Messages:
    81
    Likes Received:
    0
    Yes, Dracula was. Tracy Chevalier's Falling Angels was as well. I'd say it's fairly popular since so many of us are able to come up with at least moderately successful examples of it.
     
  14. Cogito
    Offline

    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    May 19, 2007
    Messages:
    35,935
    Likes Received:
    2,043
    Location:
    Massachusetts, USA
    It's more accurate to say it was fairly popular. Epistolary novels do still occasionally appear, but they have largely fallen out of favor, because the reader is removed from the action. The reader only sees the actual events as interpreted by the letter writer.

    Explicitly filtering the events through the perceptions of the characters writing each communique may hold some appeal in terms of revealing character, but most modern readers would rather experience the action more directly and interpret characters through their actions rather than through their ruminations.
     
  15. mammamaia
    Offline

    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2006
    Messages:
    19,316
    Likes Received:
    1,014
    Location:
    Coquille, Oregon
    i agree... [as usual]
     
  16. roseberryse
    Offline

    roseberryse Member

    Joined:
    Sep 8, 2009
    Messages:
    69
    Likes Received:
    4
    Location:
    Chicago, IL
    I think it would be more successful if the entire novel wasn't written that way, but part of it...even most of it would be preferable. Personally, I love that type of writing, but I can see where an entire novel written that way would get old. As Cogito said, the reader is so far removed from the action that they'd slowly become bored. Not to say that it couldn't be done...I'm sure it can. I just think you'd have a greater time getting a larger audience if you used it as one of many tools.
     
  17. Cogito
    Offline

    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    May 19, 2007
    Messages:
    35,935
    Likes Received:
    2,043
    Location:
    Massachusetts, USA
    There are situations in which an epistolary form fits the requirements of a story better than any others, for example to show events from the point of view of someone with a particularly unusual thought process.

    As an example, I point to the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode Data's Day. That episode is told in the form of a communication from Data to Professor Mattucks, to give the audience a unique insight into how Data, an android still learning about the subtleties of human emotion and behavior, interprets events taking place over a twenty-four hour period. The epistolary form allows not only the direct first-person experiences, but also offers an opportunity for Data to indulge in introspection naturally.
     
  18. Anonym
    Offline

    Anonym Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Jan 16, 2010
    Messages:
    292
    Likes Received:
    10
    I imagine part of the style's decline has to do with the obsolescence of letter writing in general. It's not something people can relate to as easily as was once the case, what with the convenience of txting and all. I don't see why it couldn't be an intriguing novelty however.
     
  19. mammamaia
    Offline

    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2006
    Messages:
    19,316
    Likes Received:
    1,014
    Location:
    Coquille, Oregon
    i shudder to picture a novel written in textese!
     
  20. Unit7
    Offline

    Unit7 Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jun 13, 2009
    Messages:
    1,151
    Likes Received:
    59
    So I shouldn't send you a copy of TTYL by Lauren Myracle for Christmas? lol

    Apparently the whole book is in the form of IM's and texts or whatever.
     
  21. Anonym
    Offline

    Anonym Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Jan 16, 2010
    Messages:
    292
    Likes Received:
    10
    LOL. Well played sir :D
     
  22. Jenni
    Offline

    Jenni New Member

    Joined:
    Jun 2, 2010
    Messages:
    7
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Manchester, UK
    I enjoy reading books made up of letters, diary entries and e-mails (although that wouldn't go down so well in a WWII novel) so I don't see a problem with it.

    My book is also set during WWII but isn't told through letters and is more of a chicklit sort of book.
     
  23. Shinn
    Offline

    Shinn Banned

    Joined:
    Jan 1, 2008
    Messages:
    925
    Likes Received:
    5
    Location:
    New Zealand
    Interesting :)

    I'd love to read it!
     
  24. eliza490
    Offline

    eliza490 Member

    Joined:
    Jul 30, 2009
    Messages:
    58
    Likes Received:
    2
    Location:
    Georgia
    I have always thought that this kind of writing is interesting. It's a great way to tell a story, especially one that revolves around historic events.

    ~Eliza
     
  25. April wilson
    Offline

    April wilson Member

    Joined:
    Dec 19, 2010
    Messages:
    29
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    australia
    The diary of Anne Frank is a wounderfully poignant short and true story of a young girl in war a war torn country, I read it at school ( more years ago than I care to admit) and still remember it. A truly beautiful piece of work.

    April

    Ps. I have looked for some guidelines of such literature but havent found anything helpful or constructive. I think many writers struggle with format and content of diary themes. This is the impression I get from this website. Well worth the read though, I like them.
     

Share This Page