Using Journal Entries in Your Manuscript

September 12, 2021 by in category The Writing Journey by Denise Colby tagged as , , with 2 and 0
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Early on, I wanted my heroine to have a journal. Not quite sure why, but capturing her journey through a journal stuck as I brainstormed my scenes. Some writers write character journals for their characters to help them see things from their character’s perspective. But for me, I wanted my heroine to actually have a journal in my story.

Have you read many books using journal entries throughout the story?

I actually have come across a very limited amount of books using journal entries throughout the story. In my manuscript, there is an entry at the beginning of every chapter. I was excited a few years ago to find a book that had this and found that it worked. But I haven’t found a lot of books this way, so that’s a good thing.

I’m even considering it to be possibly a thing I do in all of them, but we will see.

I’m curious to know if this is something that appeals to readers or not.

I have seen a journal or diary entry as a plot point or in a scene. I actually have some of those as well since her writing in her journal is part of her story.

Do you write in a journal? 

If you do, do you ever worry about someone reading what you wrote?

My heroine gets handed a journal upon her start as a teacher. In it, she’s instructed to write down the events of her days to capture what happens as a female teacher who moves West to teach in small pioneer towns.

Olivia finds her journal to be a close confidant. She enjoys documenting her observances about the places she’s been and the people she meets. Given that it’s 1869 and traveling by train across the country is a new and unprecedented event, the importance in capturing the momentous occasion is not lost on her.  

She’s also very protective of her book. It never leaves her side and she would never leave it out so that someone could read it. But even if they did, she is very careful what she writes, never putting to paper her own thoughts and opinions, just in case someone else might read it and pass judgement on her. 

See judgement stings and her fear of being judged stems from…well…I don’t want to give too much away.

Creating realistic journal entries

I created a small diary in Olivia’s hand, so that I could think like her and feel what it might’ve been like all those years ago to have a small diary to write down words that could be read one hundred years later.

Denise M. Colby created a mock journal in her characters hand to get a sense of what she would say. This is the title page opened and dated 1869
My character in my story keeps a journal, so I created one and wrote in it as if I’m her. I even changed the handwriting to fit her personality.

What she was doing was so new in 1869. 

Traveling across the country, women came west to teach in one-room schoolhouses and in order to make a difference in the life of a child, and for herself as well.

I wonder, in real life, how many of them kept a journal? And if they had any idea that we would be reading what they wrote so many years later?

Denise loves journals and has several laying around her home at any given time. She wrote about her bullet journal page design ideas for writers in an earlier post and this year she started a journal just for her word of the year quotes. The one she uses the most is her prayer journal. Check out her how to start a prayer journal page on her website.

Author Bio
Author Bio
Although new to the writing fiction world, Denise Colby has over 20+ years experience in marketing, creating different forms of content and copy for promotional materials. Taking the lessons learned from creating her own author brand Denise M. Colby, Denise enjoys sharing her combined knowledge with other authors. If you are interested in a marketing evaluation and would like help in developing a strategy for your author brand you can find out more here http://denisemcolby.com/marketing-for-authors/
  • Using Journal Entries in Your Manuscript
    Early on, I wanted my heroine to have a journal. Not quite sure why, but capturing her journey through a journal stuck as I brainstormed my scenes. Some writers write character journals for their characters to help them see things from their character’s perspective. But for me, I wanted my heroine to actually have a […]
  • The Wisdom of This Year’s Focus Word
    Early on, I wanted my heroine to have a journal. Not quite sure why, but capturing her journey through a journal stuck as I brainstormed my scenes. Some writers write character journals for their characters to help them see things from their character’s perspective. But for me, I wanted my heroine to actually have a […]
  • July Featured Author: Denise M. Colby

    Denise M. Colby loves to write words that encourage, enrich, and engage whether it’s in her blog, social media, magazine articles, or devotions. With over 20+ years’ experience in marketing, she enjoys using her skills to help other authors. She treasures the written word and the messages that can be conveyed when certain words are strung together. An avid journal writer, she usually can be found with a pen and notepad whenever she’s reading God’s word. Denise is writing her first novel, a Christian Historical Romance and can be found at www.denisemcolby.com

    @denisemcolby

  • July Featured Author: Denise M. Colby

    Denise M. Colby loves to write words that encourage, enrich, and engage whether it’s in her blog, social media, magazine articles, or devotions. With over 20+ years’ experience in marketing, she enjoys using her skills to help other authors. She treasures the written word and the messages that can be conveyed when certain words are strung together. An avid journal writer, she usually can be found with a pen and notepad whenever she’s reading God’s word. Denise is writing her first novel, a Christian Historical Romance and can be found at www.denisemcolby.com

    @denisemcolby

  • July Featured Author: Denise M. Colby

    Denise M. Colby loves to write words that encourage, enrich, and engage whether it’s in her blog, social media, magazine articles, or devotions. With over 20+ years’ experience in marketing, she enjoys using her skills to help other authors. She treasures the written word and the messages that can be conveyed when certain words are strung together. An avid journal writer, she usually can be found with a pen and notepad whenever she’s reading God’s word. Denise is writing her first novel, a Christian Historical Romance and can be found at www.denisemcolby.com

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Although new to the writing fiction world, Denise Colby has over 20+ years experience in marketing, creating different forms of content and copy for promotional materials. Taking the lessons learned from creating her own author brand Denise M. Colby, Denise enjoys sharing her combined knowledge with other authors. If you are interested in a marketing evaluation and would like help in developing a strategy for your author brand you can find out more here http://denisemcolby.com/marketing-for-authors/
  • Nancy says:

    One of my current WIPs features some diary entries. I feel that it’s another way for the reader to get close to a character. I’ve also been a journaler and have been protective of my diary writing since younger siblings broke into my locked diary with a fork when I was twelve. And then quoted passages from it at family gatherings. It’s true!

    • oh my Nancy! I was hoping people would understand my characters reluctance to put anything of a delicate nature in her diary (at first – lol). Your story confirms that. Thanks for commenting!

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