Craft & Techniques Writing Department

Write your Hero’s Diary

Have you ever had a story idea you loved so much that you skipped prep and directly started writing ? I’m sure you do. We all experienced this, when our imagination goes wild, we are so immersed in the atmosphere of our story we just can’t resist the pull !

However, we’ve all heard the dreadful tales of writers who hit a block after 5,000 7,000 or 10,000 words and realize their story is getting nowhere, that they’ve lost their drive, hit a dead end and have to rewrite it.

A solution I found (and quite enjoy) is to write your hero’s diary ! Begin a journal and instead of your thoughts, act as if you were in your main character’s head and write their thoughts, their journey, etc.

 

How it can help your story :

  • First, you don’t have to jump into writing your novel right away, before you’re ready. You can stay in the atmosphere of your story (and quench that urge to write) while still working on the plot. Besides, you avoid jumping too fast in your draft and hit a dead end.
  • You’ll be able to explore your character in much more depth than when you just write your story. You’ll actually write down all his thoughts, his reactions to specific events, the memories he recalls and so on.
  • You keep working on your novel from a new perspective. That might be useful if you don’t know what direction to take after a specific plot point for example. Writing the moment from the eyes of your character may give you ideas on what should follow.
  • You can experiment with ideas without worrying about the consequences on your story. You can try out scenes with your character having different back stories or making different choices and see how it folds out regarding to his reactions.
  • Writing this diary will bring you a clearer view and understanding of your character and his journey. You can even write other character’s diaries for specific events/scenes. It will force you to see things through their eyes, consider their personal goals, theirs fears, their desires. Ultimately, it will bring depth to all your characters !
  • Bonus point, make this a writing routine. Something you do to before each working session, to get in the mood. You can of course come back to it to write some more as you work on your story.
  • Have fun ! Can you imagine a better way to start working on your novel ?

 

So, you want to make this work ? There’s only 3 rules you must follow :

  1. No consistency of action : you can follow the course of actions you wrote the day before or start a new event, it’s up to you. The most important thing is to experiment. There’s no point in keeping heading in a direction if you can see that it’s a dead end.
  1. No consistency of character : if you hesitate between 2 back stories or if you should give your character a specific trauma that would change his reaction to an event, try them out. Write the scene with and without this trauma, change his back story, see what happens.
  1. No consistency of time : jump from one point in your story to another, write about something that happens even before your story begins or how he’s changed afterwards. No need to follow a chronological order.

 

Once you’ve finished the prep of your novel and start writing it, you’ll feel much more at ease with your story and your character(s). Keep the diary close, you may want to flip through the pages from time to time and even add new entries.

Then, when you’ve finished your novel after months of hard work, it’s time to start a new character’s diary…

 

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