January 9, 2013 by K. L. Wightman
Dear Blogging Community,
I’ve decided to write this blog as I write my journal entries. You are now reading the typed-up version of what I wrote in my same journal with my same pen at my favorite time of day in my favorite spot.
Already I’m noticing a change in my tone and vocabulary. I usually direct my journal entries to the audience of a future generation, which leads me to describing places, objects, current events, and slang that my audience may not understand. But today my audience is you, the present-day blog reader with a curiosity for social media and a passion for the writing craft.
This exercise was frequent in my graduate school courses. We were instructed to pick someone in the classroom and address the classmate’s name at the top of our page. For the next 15 minutes, we were then to write a fictional scene as if our addressed classmate was our only audience member. My diction and syntax changed dramatically from classmate to classmate depending on how comfortable my narrating character or I was in expressing the story.
As I mentioned in my previous blog post, the journal has an audience, whether or not the audience receives the story. That is because the writer is always directing the story towards someone, thinking on how to craft the story to capture and retain the audience’s attention (and adoration).
This is why journaling is commonly found in published stories. Journaling in stories has as much impact on the writing style as it does on character development and the progression of the narration.
Journaling in Stories Makes the Narrating Character Aware of the Audience
Can you identify the specific audience for your work-in-progress? Perhaps this is why you might be struggling with your writing. Not having a specific target to aim your arrow at gives too much unnecessary freedom to go all over the place. Keep yourself and your narrating character focused on one target audience. Is the target audience inside or outside the story? How does the narrating character speak now? Does the narrating character need to impress the audience or need to be formal?
Journaling in Stories Keeps the Narrating Character Honest
Just like in real life, journaling for an audience doesn’t mean the audience will read it. The narrating character knows this, so the narrating character starts speaking words or thoughts they’d like to express to this audience but may not have the courage to do so outside of this medium. But even if it is eventually read, the narrating character wants the audience on their side, so the narrating character will try to be as persuasive as possible in getting the reader’s sympathy. The narrating character may be unreliable but is still conveying their perceived version of reality as powerfully as possible.
Applying the lessons from journaling into your own story doesn’t necessarily mean altering your story into a journal format. Although the style of journaling in stories is enjoyable to read, the success of the journal style can still be applied to traditional stylistic methods. Just write “Dear [audience name],” at the top of each draft to remind yourself and your narrating character of the following:
- Who is receiving this story?
- What parts of the story are they to receive?
- When are they receiving this story?
- Where are they receiving this story?
- Why are they receiving this story?
- How are they receiving this story?