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Friday, March 07, 2008

Diaries As A Starting Ground

by LuAnn Womach

Lately, I've been intrigued with novels that include diary entries as a means of advancing the plot or provided back story. It's not a new technique, but for some reason, the technique has drawn me in and made me realize how valuable a tool a diary can be in advancing both fiction and non-fiction.

I've written in a journal for nearly 20 years as a means of not only self-expression, but as a daily record of the world close to me: the weather, local news, a personal observation about my mood. Some of those personal observations have grown into magazine articles and newspaper features.

But I had been considering adding a diary segment to the young adult novel I've been writing, and I knew I needed help.

Inspiration hit when I was leafing through The Write-Brain Workbook: 366 Exercises to Liberate Your Writing by Bonnie Neubauer. An exercise entitled "Dear Diary - One" offers several choices for an age option and location option. By selecting one choice from each column, the writer becomes the person and lives at that location. The writer finds a diary from 1864. Let the story unfold. Start with: Some people might have have opened.....

After trying out a couple different options from both columns, I returned to the novel and experimented with the technique. What if a classmate of the protagonist found the diary and shared it with the coach? What if the protagonist's mother discovered the diary and found out that her co-worker - the coach - was harassing her daughter?

I'm still working on the novel, but the diary exercise let me add an important story element, and hopefully, that will entice and captivate readers.


  1. LuAnn,

    I'm so glad you mentioned Bonnie's book! She sent me a copy of that and it's a fabulous resource for jump starting inspiration. The thing is chock-full of exercises and quite a hefty book!

    Thanks for sharing. =o)


  2. Hi Luann,

    Another great source of inspiration is a writer by the name of Natalie Goldberg, about 2 years ago she brought out a book called " The Essential Writer's Notebook" A step by step guide to better writing.

    There are some really neat techniques in there.

    I will have to check out Bonnie's book as well, it sounds fascinating!

    Good Luck!
    Happy Writing-


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