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Hi Everyone,
I could use some advice for the structure of the book I"m writing. The book's main character takes place in the present, but finds a diary from the 1920's that plays the major role in moving the present day plot along. What's the best way to write it? I don't know if readers would want to read all 20-some odd diary entries and I don't know if the main character summarizing them does it justice. Any tips on how to make sure I don't bore readers?  :help2
#1 - August 02, 2015, 02:19 PM

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Haven't done this but could your MC share snippets with a secondary character if you have one working with the MC? This way it's more interesting in dialogue than having the reader read them as you said or having the MC "think" it through alone.
#2 - August 06, 2015, 12:08 PM
Beyond Suspicion, YA Mystery, Poisoned Pen Press, 2015
http://www.catherineawinnbooks.com

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you could think of it maybe like this: go to the diary only when it has a purpose for the ongoing plot or fills a need for your character, then we as readers want to read the diary because it tells us something we are interested in knowing. And no need to give us the whole diary section, it's enough to give us the lines that help us understand what we want to know. If the diary also has some important role in characterization and theme, you can still see that too as 'important info' and still go to it exactly when we're hoping to learn about the past character or when you're in the middle of a section on the theme. Readers won't get bored by a diary entry if it's part of the overall story, but sure, if it's written in a style that's a very adult vocab and writing style, for instance, then, depending on the age of your readers, you may want to leave out almost all of it but the important parts. Like Cathie says too, one character telling another in dialogue definitely gives you a quick way through, especially if you focus on the characters of the kids talking even while the info is coming out.
#3 - August 19, 2015, 09:09 AM
Keith McGowan, www.keithbooks.com

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Check out Moon Over Manifest by Claire Vanderpool and see how she structures the past and present. It's a brilliant book.
I'm drawing a blank on other books that might have diary entries from the past.
Vijaya
#4 - August 19, 2015, 10:45 AM
TEN EASTER EGGS (Cartwheel/Scholastic, 2015)
www.vijayabodach.blogspot.com
Author of over 40 books and 60 magazine pieces

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Thank you! I decided that since both the story from the past and the story in the present each chapter will alternate being told by one of the main characters. The character from the 20's tells what would have been the diary entries that then connect to the character in the present. Thank you for the book recommendation too.
#5 - August 19, 2015, 05:20 PM

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Hi Rachel,
Some great advice here from others. I have had a similar issue with my WIP. (The backstory wasn't a diary, but flashbacks, which revealed a mystery tied into the present story.) I started with the alternating structure, but decided to scrap it because it was really slowing down the pace of my book. It might work really well for your story, but if you find it isn't working, don't be afraid to switch things up in your next revision. Right now, I am working on weaving the flashbacks into the narrative of the story, which is actually simpler than I thought it would be.
#6 - August 20, 2015, 06:37 AM

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