Books in diary format

Every book brings new challenges, and my current project is no exception. The biggest of them? I’m writing it not just in first person POV (like GHOST), but in the form of the main character’s journal entries.

It’s interesting how much of a difference it makes to how the story gets told. I think there’s at least as much difference between regular first person and diary first person as there is between first person and (limited) third. I have to consider not just the character’s voice, but timing (when during these events will she have time to write?), content (what sorts of things would she bother to mention in her journal? what might she leave out?), and style (she might think something one way, but would she actually phrase it like that when writing it down?). It makes certain aspects harder (can’t have a cliffhanger in the middle of the action!) but other things more satisfying (there’s a reason this is all being written down, from her perspective, not just mine as the author).

How do you all feel about diary format in fiction? Do you enjoy it or avoid it? What things do you like about it, and what can bother you? Examples you think work particularly well (or not well) are welcome!


Books in diary format — 4 Comments

  1. I totally agree with you about diary-first-person and plain old narrative first person, and I think it’s even more true when you have the person expressing herself through letters.

    I haven’t read many works of fiction in diary format, but I think I’ve liked what I have read.

  2. Maybe this is far too late, but the book “We Need To Talk About Kevin” by Lionel Schriver was written in this format and I thought it worked really well.

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