Thursday, August 19, 2010

How Do You Write Journal Entries?

I've been inspired, guys. Based on the comments I received during Teaser Tuesday from Tracey and Cory, I decided to write a blog post about journal entries. Cory showed me this awesome short story, and how you can feel it progress in such few words.  

I realized the only book I've read with journal entries is Life As We Knew It. The entire plot line is centered around Miranda (MC) and what she writes in her diary/journal that day. Sometimes the notes are lengthy. Sometimes they're extremely short. Either way, they're believable.

So we know this: The entries must move your story forward.

Sounds simple, right? If you're anything like me, right now I'm saying: "Pfffffft. Of course they have to move your story forward. Duhhh." Because it's just like anything else in the writing world--you have to get from Point A to Point B to move your readers along.

And how is that different with journal writing? Well, diary/journal entries are usually A LOT shorter than normal chapters. Which means you have to move the reader along in very few words.

Oh dear. Now that doesn't sound as easy.

To make an impact (and for this to feel real), you only need to leave the most important aspect of that "day" in your notes. For example: nobody is going to blab on for five pages about buying a new pair of jeans, or whether the baby bird outside their window will fly today.

There is one main focal point for each entry. Write down what that point is, make sure your character only speaks about it, and then move on to the next entry (which could be that afternoon or two days later).

June 2, 2001

Lacey's been asking Dad for a kitten. I want a dog. But guess what? She wins again! Mom took her to pick out a kitten this afternoon, and they just got home with it. I hate cats.

The focal point is that Lacey wants a kitten, but we also see some angst with the sister who is writing this. Emotions. Something that needs to be very clear when you're writing. If your character's emotions don't pop off the page and smack you upside the head, then you're not doing it right.

One of the good things about reading diaries/journals is that it's VERY real. Nothing like narrative--where someone goes here, and then they do this, and then they say that. What you read in a diary/journal is extremely intimate (and not in a smexified way, unless... err, no, never mind), which can ultimately make the reader feel connected to the character.

I just wanted to be very clear that for this blog post, these are my opinions only. I definitely want to hear yours, and how you write/would write entries.

But for now, I'll leave you with one of my journal entries:

Um, what's this? *sketchy eyes*

I'll just... I'll... tuck this away somewhere. so no one will ever find it again. ahem.


  1. Lovely post, especially when you said this:

    "There is one main focal point for each entry. Write down what that point is, make sure your character only speaks about it, and then move on to the next entry (which could be that afternoon or two days later)."

    Your tip is something I must try.

    If I there’s one thing I love about reading journal entries though, it’s being able to piece together every single entry until the fact that it was written in entries in the first place is completely invisible, if you know what I mean. :)

    Some of my favorite journal formatted novels are from the Dear America Series, although some might find them kind of corny. There was one that I read years ago that I just can’t stop thinking about. If only I could remember its title.

    Your journal entry made me smile.

  2. Sorry for that typo. I'm a speed typer. ;)

  3. I recently read Life As We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer, and it is also written in diary format. I thought it was a really interesting way to write a book!

  4. Tracey - Let me know how it goes! :D

    Elizabeth - I listed Life As We Knew It above. :/ lol But it was definitely interesting.

  5. *giggle snorts* Haha, a Snuggie!!

    This was a great post. I have a chapter in my book where most it features the diary entries of a missing (possibly dead girl) and they are supposed to reveal secrets and possibly move the plot along.

    Right now they suck, but hopefully using your tips, I'll be able to make them not-suck.



  7. I have a great site for the students. The reflective journal assignment is a very best way to make a best assignment. Thank you very much


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