Thursday, June 25, 2009

Journal Format: Dead or Alive and Kicking?

Tip of the Day: There's been a lot of talk this week amongst YA authors on to blog or not to blog (aka-- what kind of things should we blog about? Only the good? The bad too?) so I thought I'd share my philosophy with the world. As an author, when you don't know what to share and what not to share online-- think WWMCD (What would Meg Cabot do?) If Meg wouldn't blog xyz then you shouldn't either! :-)

Em's query sharing this week got me thinking about my first query. My first book was a sort of journal format (a notebook passed between four best friends at school). I queried the heck out of this book let me tell you and it did get me my agent (though we did not end up submitting that book to editors). While I was querying for agents (and stacking up loads of rejections) some of the responses I got were that the journal format was dated, not "fresh" etc. I think I just accepted that must be the case. This week, however, I picked up this book from the library:

OH MY GOD!! I'm LOVING it! It's the journal of a 16-year old girl watching the world basically fall apart. It starts with everyone chattering and being excited about an asteroid about to hit the moon. Teachers are assigning essays on the moon and people are planning parties to watch the asteroid hit (reminds me of when there was a solar eclipse and people got the boxes to watch it). The asteroid hits and it's bigger than anyone could have expected. The moon has shifted (now HUGE in the sky) and it's causing all kinds of catastrophes-- tsunamis, earthquakes, volcano eruptions etc. Entire states are being wiped out and families that are more inland (this MC is in Pennsylvania) are struggling to survive. Gas prices soar, grocery stores close, and electricity is almost non-existent. The book seriously gripped me from the very beginning and I'm only halfway through so I'm dying to know how it ends of course.

Okay, but back to the topic of journal formats. I LOVE how the author used the format to tell this story. It is so not dated! Well, maybe I'm just so swayed by the concept of the book. What do you think? Are there journal formatted books you love? Is the journal format dead or alive?

Kristina, Miss Delighted to Debut


DeenaML said...

I think it's very hard to write a journal style book (make sure it's showing and not telling), but when done well, I really like it!

BookChic said...

I loved Life As We Knew It!! I listened to it on audio book and it became so much more real listening to it as opposed to reading it.

I personally love journal format, and one of my stories is written in that fashion. I find it an interesting way of writing a story.

Kate Fall said...

Tina, that book scared the pants off me. Seriously. I had to inventory all the food in my kitchen while I read it. I think I remember Susan Beth Pfeiffer commenting on how difficult it was to do dialogue in that format.

I think it would be fun to do a novel in letters from the main character to someone else, because then you could play with the main character holding back information or choosing to reveal it. I'm not sure how that (or journals) would work in the digital age though. Of course, you could just wipe out civilization like LIFE AS WE KNEW IT so you don't have to worry about blogs and LiveJournal.

Summer said...

I love that book too. Journal format is so not outdated!

Anonymous said...

Ha, I sure hope it's not dated. My own book has a number of journal entries interwoven with a first-person narrative.

Life as We Knew It succeeds because it's a gripping story. And I think people are still reading Go Ask Alice, too--another journal format.

If something works, it works!

Christina Farley said...

This books sounds fabulous! I must read it. As far as journalistic books, there was one that I loved. Hmmm something about Rapunzel. What was it!!!???? Oh! Letters to Rapunzel or maybe it was Letters from Rapunzel. Anyway, I loved it. Very cute. Must read it.