View Full Version : Memoirs: in journal entry form?

01-14-2007, 11:49 PM
Thanks everyone,

Sohia Rose
01-15-2007, 02:29 AM
Thanks for starting this post! I'd love to hear what others have to say. I'm thinking of writing my next memoir this way. I'm a journaler too. :)

01-15-2007, 06:59 AM
I don't think a book that's written as a journal would read easily or smoothly. I also don't think that format lends itself to incorporation of dialogue, which IMO is important.

Now, you might start a chapter with a journal entry, and then write a conventional chapter from there. Use of "journal entries" for chapter introductions might work.

02-11-2007, 06:42 AM

I need to resurrect this thread.

I have a 180 page manuscript in journal entry form. I've tried to break it up into chapters and phases.

For example,

Chapter 1
August 2, 2004
Today I saw her.

August 3, 2004
Today I saw her again and approached her.

August 4, 2004
Today she told me to buzz off.

Chapter 2
August 5, 2004
Today I decided to become a monk.

I think I have a good, saleable story even though it's been rejected a few times, I'm not giving up.

do you think this works or should I just keep it in date entry form?

Most editors and publishers ask for samples of the first three chapters, that is why I was thinking of the chapter form.

what do you guys think?

02-11-2007, 05:12 PM
What you just showed me isn't a chapter. It's a few one-line entries from a journal.

Use those one-line entries as the basis for a 3,000 word story about how you felt, and you would have a chapter. I do not think any publisher would buy a book that consisted principally of one-line journal entries like that.

One of the principal things editors buy is the author's voice. One line journal entries by themselves really don't have a voice. That's the problem. It will be extremely difficult to convey feelings and thoughts in the manner you describe, and that's essential.

One other comment with respect to pages. The form you describe will use quite a few pages with few words. When writing my own memoir, which is being published by Crown this September, I learned that 85-100,000 words is sort of an expected length for a memoir. Longer and it moves into autobiography, and shorter is, well, short stories.

100,000 words in that form would not read well, in my opinion.

02-16-2007, 10:20 PM
I agree with John. The journal form gets monotonous quick. I want a story not a diary. A story includes scenes, dialogue, sensory details, plot, action, conflict, character development, etc. I think it's going to be very difficult to form a story from journal entries. Not to say that it can't be done or hasn't. It's just harder. Also with journal entries you'll have a harder time with time itself. You might feel obligated to keep the entries in order when some reordering would strengthen the story. Just my 2 cents.