1. Stammis

    Stammis Senior Member

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    Writing a fictional journal

    Discussion in 'Fantasy' started by Stammis, Jan 3, 2017.

    Hi, could you guys tell me if this sound like something written in a journal? Like the the MC sat down and wrote this after it happened? I've been having trouble making it sound like a journal and still make each entry be interesting and not seem to distant to the reader.

    This is entry 13 so I'm sorry that it is a bit out of context.

    I woke up in the middle of the night today. A shudder ran through my body seemingly out of nowhere. I wasn’t cold, at least not until I rose from under the blanket. I peered my ears and heard nothing. I had a sudden urge to go outside, as if the inside of the tent were no longer safe, that there was something alien inside it. Only wrapped in my blanket I made a motion to remove the flap on my tent. But I hesitated. A spurt of warm air graced my fingers, as if from a snort by some animal. It kept breathing and I did not move, condensation collecting on my knuckles. I don’t know how long I stood there. But it felt like an eternity before whatever was outside started to move. A gust of wind, wind strong enough to tear down my tent blew onto me. I staggered and fell on my tools, something blunt boring into my side. Ignoring the pain, I rushed outside. I dashed my head around looking for something I had no image of. For some reason I looked to the sky instead of the ground around me, the image of a giant bird coming first to mind. But there was nothing to see, only my tent laying half bent and crumbled. From the darkness, a distant shriek reached my ears, echoing on the mountain walls - the sound growing fainter at each bounce. It was clear that we were not alone, on our journey through the highlands.
     
  2. BayView

    BayView Huh. Interesting. Contributor

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    Well, it certainly isn't how I'd write in my journal. It's too writerly, if that makes sense? Not immediate enough?

    But there certainly is a tradition of tidying up journal-writing when it's presented as fiction...

    Maybe it would be helpful to clarify for whom the journal is intended? If the writer is journalling with an intention to sell his story after his adventure is over, he'd probably write in a different style than if he was writing for himself, or for the benefit of later travellers on the same route, or whatever other fictional reasons for writing a journal you might come up with.
     
  3. Stammis

    Stammis Senior Member

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    The purpose of the journal changes. At first is to document their travels and later it becomes a source of comfort as he becomes alienated from the others in the group. It doesn't have to be 100% realistic journal I suppose. It's more important that it is interesting to read.

    I've taken inspiration from Captain Cook's journal and the writing style of Lovecraft.
     
  4. BayView

    BayView Huh. Interesting. Contributor

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    Is your character writing in an historic period? The greater formality might make sense if the story is set in the past.
     
  5. Iain Sparrow

    Iain Sparrow Banned Contributor

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    Is the journal entry part of a prologue, or have you gone insane and decided to write the entire story in journal form?

    Either way, I'm not getting a sense of immediacy, nor do I have any context in which to place the character and his adventure. Who keeps a journal and isn't religious about keeping dates and times? Explorers keep detailed journals... until things go badly. It appears things are going badly for your character, how is it he's so articulate and well composed?

    Forget about Captain Cook and Lovecraft. Get your inspiration from the beginning of Frankenstein, which starts with four letters that act as prologue/plot/narrative shift. Very innovative for the time.
     
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  6. Stammis

    Stammis Senior Member

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    Technically it is. It's a fantasy story and the journal is written long ago.
     
  7. Stammis

    Stammis Senior Member

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    Interesting. I just bought the book on amazon. He starts off with letters as a prologue, as you've said. I'll read it later tonight.

    The story is, a prologue of sorts, actually. It's a short story that takes place before a trilogy of books that I've been working on. The story starts of with the MC of the trilogy finding the journal and he reacts, once in a while, to what he reads. The majority of the text are the entries though.

    Having read some of the entries in Cook's journals, it seems common to be composed and articulate, in whatever situation he finds himself in. It is true that he documented almost every day on his journey, but I think that would be far too boring for the reader.
     
  8. Rosacrvx

    Rosacrvx Contributor Contributor

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    It sounds like a journal... of a writer. I see nothing wrong with it. Your character has writing skills, so much the better. To make it realistic, he may lose his composure as things get worse. He can become frantic and still write frantic well.
     
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  9. KevinMcCormack

    KevinMcCormack Senior Member

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    It does sound like a journal, but hard to distinguish from non-journal first person.

    My observation from reading at least a dozen journal stories, is that they're often different than first person in that the author is demonstrating awareness of writing, and it can often come in the form of self evaluation and other private thoughts that would not be shared with others. It's a great device for switching between action and editorializing.

    An example from Robertson Davies' "The Clever Man" is when he writes about recovering from scarlet fever as a ten year old:

     
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  10. Stammis

    Stammis Senior Member

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    You are completely right there. What do you think of this edited version?

    I woke up in the middle of the night today. It all began with a shudder, a shudder strong enough to jitter me awake. I had no recollection of what might have caused it, but I began to feel uneasy, as if there was something inside my tent, lurking. Which I knew was impossible, but the feeling was strong enough that going back to sleep was out of the question. Figuring that a bit of fresh air would get me to sleep, I wrapped myself in my blanket and was about to remove the flap and exit my tent. But I stayed my hand, as I felt a warm spurt of air grace my fingers on the outside. Had one of the horses got lose from the caravan? I wondered. Though that would have been the most logical explanation, the animals snort felt unnatural, as if its breath, in addition of holding warmth, also held a chill that no living thing could harbour. I don’t know for how long I stood there, feeling like an eternity, the “thing” outside started to move. And moments later, a gust of wind, wind strong enough to tear down my tent, startled me. Staggering, I fell on my tools in the corner, feeling something blunt boring into my side. But I ignored the pain and quickly rose to my legs and rushed outside.


    I don’t know where this sudden spurt of bravery came from, but my curiosity has always trumped all, and soon I found myself staring into the night, peering at all sides to glimpse the beast that had toppled my tent. But there was nothing around me, not a single speck of light could be found and I began to wonder if I had died. From the darkness, a distant shriek made me dart my head towards the sky, the shriek echoing on the mountain walls, the sound growing fainter until it vanished, making me question the state of my sanity. Did this really happen? If it did, it was clear that we are not alone on our journey through the highlands.
     

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