Writing Books/Person to person perspective
QUESTION: Good day and thank you for reading this.
I am writing a book( Coyote Wine) it is about some diaries found in a trunk after a death in the family.It covers from the 1880's to about 1960. Initially written by a 16 year old boy. Ending when the boy(Man) is in his 80's. At this time the story is being told as entries in a diary( First person. I want to transition from Diary/Journal to third person then later when he gets old transition back to Diary/Journal.
The Diary/Journal part are going to mostly be first person, but before the end of the first book(Coyote Wine..California chronicles) ends i want to have transitioned to 3rd person..my question is ..How do i transition from 1st person diary entries to 3rd person so that it is not objectionable to the reader? and then back again?
ANSWER: Hi, Mark!
The trick with journal entries is how you're conveying them to the reader. You can approach it one of two ways:
1) The person writing the diary is writing it in "real time." Not only is the character writing, but the outside world is happening around him while he's writing. He could, for example, get interrupted from writing in the 1880s by his mom calling for him to slop the hogs, or gather wood for the dinner fire. One good example of this is a memoir called "Doc Susie". It's not only a good story but a good example of a diary. http://www.amazon.com/Doc-Susie-Virginia-Cornell/dp/0804109567
2) It can be read in the past tense from the point of view of the reader. There are lots of examples of this in current novels. Look at "The Bridges of Madison County" as one example of how this has been done quite well. http://www.amazon.com/Bridges-Madison-County-Robert-Waller/dp/0446364495/ref=sr_
The thing you have to look at is WHY you want to jump back and forth like this? Is it to help the reader understand the story better or because you, as the writer, can't think of what to say outside of the diary entries? If you're honest about what you're trying to do, you'll think of a way to make it work. Read some examples of memoirs for various ways to approach the book--even if yours is fiction.
Does that make sense?
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QUESTION: Thank you for your response.
Just wanted to clarify the question and the points you offered.
1. The Diaries are in past tense..IE June 23 83.
Sorry its been so long book since i wrote here. Its been a busy last three months. Moon had her baby, and her tribe( well the woman anyway) came to help her.The men took me on a hunt to help celibrate the birth.They taught me how to....etc etc etc...
The entries have much more power then this quick write offers but this is what i meant by past tense and 1st person.
The reason i want to transition to 3rd person is so that the reader becomes the subject( so to speak) rather then just a reader of someone else life.
Also i want to do it as a exercise. Most of what i have had published are Native american stories( online publications) and so they are mainly first person as that is how they would be told verbally..
anyway thank you and i will try to find a outside work that transitions they way i am trying to do..
Hi, again, Mark,
What you've put here gives me some perspective. But I guess what I'm wondering is whether you intend to have ONLY diary entries that tell the story, or a mix of diary and narrative? For example, will it be this:
"June 23 83.
Sorry its been so long book since i wrote here. Its been a busy last three months. Moon had her baby, and her tribe( well the woman anyway) came to help her.The men took me on a hunt to help celibrate the birth.They taught me..."
"June 24 83.
Hard to hold my pen today. Who knew skinning a deer was such hard work!"
Or more along the lines of this:
"June 23 83.
Sorry its been so long book since i wrote here. Its been a busy last three months. Moon had her baby, and her tribe( well the woman anyway) came to help her.The men took me on a hunt to help celibrate the birth.They taught me...
He heard a baby's cry and looked abruptly toward the teepee, surprised at his own alarm at the sound. He began to write again:
The little one just cried out and it made me plumb afraid. Guess I'll have to get used to worrying about the boy."
Moving in and out of diary entries might give you what you're looking for. It brings the reader into the character's world more strongly than just the diary entries. It also helps the reader orient to the intentional misspellings you've inserted in this bit that were common in the period. I don't know if the character conversing with the diary is very accurate for a man, though. I think instead of "Sorry its been so long since i wrote here" a more appropriate form would be "Been too long since i wrote here." One implies speaking to a friend, versus writing down events. The personalization is more common with women.
I'm thinking it would also be more likely for him to use common Civil War period terminology when writing of "Ah" or "Aym" instead of I. Just a thought.
Hope that helps a little more. Good luck with it!