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  1. Hubardo

    Hubardo Contributing Member Contributor

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    Story told through journal entries and field reports

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Hubardo, Sep 29, 2014.

    I'm writing a short story in first person with an MC who is a government agent. We read the story from her perspective in two forms: field reports she submits to her agency, and the private journal she keeps. I think it's a clever way to tell a story but it's tricky. Looking for tips and possibly references to works that use this kind of structure. I read Cloud Atlas last month and it does an excellent job with storytelling via journal entries, and that's probably where I got the idea.

    Edit:

    Holy god there's a NAME FOR IT: Epistolary novel.
     
  2. GingerCoffee

    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    I like the concept. I can give you encouragement but I have no expertise in this area to offer.
     
  3. Jack Asher

    Jack Asher Wildly experimental Contributor

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    Epistolary was very stylish back in the nineteen century. People who haven't read don't know, but Sherlock Holmes was all supposed to be Watson's journals, submitted as letters to the editor. Dracula, Frankenstein, Dorian Grey, pretty much everything by Jules Verne; they were all like that.

    That's why when I read a modern novel that's supposed to be about the Victorian era, I get pissed when it's not Epistolary.
     
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  4. daemon

    daemon Contributing Member Contributor

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    Consider the following technique:

    When she types a report, she inserts footnotes. The report is written to her agency but the footnotes are written to herself. Therefore, the report is written formally and concisely, but the footnotes are conversational. When she is finished, she creates a copy, removes the footnotes, and sends it to her agency.

    The footnotes tell the story that the agency does not get to hear. They range from personal anecdotes that her agency would find irrelevant to secrets he is keeping from her agency. Things like "Actually, what really happened was _____, but I'm standing by my 'official' version because _____."
     
  5. Hubardo

    Hubardo Contributing Member Contributor

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    I think this is a great idea, but I find it somewhat unbelievable. Which is why I would rather the personal commentary to be a separate document she keeps private. It might be too easy to accidentally include a set of footnotes in with a report. Also, as of right now I want the field reports to be in video form. Seems more modern or something.
     
  6. Jack Asher

    Jack Asher Wildly experimental Contributor

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    I don't see why any agency would want to do that. She'd have to take recording equipment into the field, and then upload the video file to a computer, and then email that file.

    Or she could tap out a report on her phone and be done in 15 minutes.
     
  7. Hubardo

    Hubardo Contributing Member Contributor

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    That makes sense. But she always has access to a computer. She is the leader of a radical environmental group in the Pacific Northwest, basically trying to train radicals to become militant so she can entrap them, imprison them, and give the agency a good reputation for having caught badguys (which she actually indoctrinated and trained - as that goes a lot of the time).

    Either way yeah, it's probably faster to just do text.
     
  8. Jack Asher

    Jack Asher Wildly experimental Contributor

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    But! If you want to update it a bit, she probably belongs to a couple of forums, and might have an anonymous tumbr.

    Imagine how satisfying it will be to have a whole forum of fictional characters, who only post according to your narrative agenda.
     
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  9. Hubardo

    Hubardo Contributing Member Contributor

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    Holy shit.
     
  10. 123456789

    123456789 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Dude, DRACULA! Best example of an epistolary novel that I can think of.
     
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  11. Alexa C. Morgan

    Alexa C. Morgan Member

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    im writing my novel kind of similar. is journaling, but with third and first person. through letters (emails) and also description. epistolary novels done well are great. :)
     
  12. JetBlackGT

    JetBlackGT Contributing Member

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    World War Z and almost anything written in the first person seems to go that route. Twilight.... :)
     
  13. Jack Asher

    Jack Asher Wildly experimental Contributor

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    No, there's a big difference between first person and epistolary. But you are right, World War Z is really good example.
     
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