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.