Not many things in life can beat the magic of a well-told short story. From the classic adventure “The Jungle Book,” written by Rudyard Kipling, to the thrilling works of Edgar Allan Poe and George Saunders, short stories have a way of captivating and gripping the reader. There are several ways of writing short stories, but can a short story be a diary entry?
A diary entry can be used within a short story, at the beginning of the story, or as the complete story itself if it contains the key elements of a good story. A short story of this form focuses on the voice of the character in the story, and also contains a setting, plot, conflict, and theme.
Writing a short story from the entries in your diary can be a good way to enter the universe of literary creation. In the rest of this article, you’ll learn how to turn one or more diary entries into a short story and the important factors to consider when writing a diary entry as a short story.
How to Turn a Diary Entry Into a Short Story
Your diary is often filled with emotions, memories, dreams, ideas, and snapshots of your day-to-day activities. To come up with a good short story, look through your diary for entries that capture interesting and powerful moments. Once you find a good entry, you can use it as the theme of your story.
For example, you could use an entry that sparked a strong emotion in you like excitement, anger, etc. You may also use entries that come across as funny or unsettling to generate story ideas and create characters. An entry of despair or sadness could also make a compelling short story.
Most famous short stories include the elements of a good novel, no matter how long or short they are. Writers like Ernest Hemmingway, Mark Twain, Stephen King, know how to paint a great picture of a story using a short amount of words and time. Here’s how to create a good short story from your diary entry and include the right elements.
Create Your Character(S) From Your Diary Entry
You can use your details or those of people you know to create characters. Using real-life details in your diary entries allows you to create more believable and relatable characters. For example, you could use your childhood friend as a character in your story. You can pick out details such as character, mannerism, and physical details.
Ideally, you should write in the character’s voice. Most times, the voice or tone of your diary entry will be the same as the character. This will allow the reader a deeper understanding of the character’s actions, feelings, and thoughts. It is up to you to decide how much to reveal to your readers.
Most short stories have one main character but can also include a secondary character. You may also combine the traits and details of several people in your diary to create a single character. Your job is to tell the story in a vivid way that convinces the reader.
Create the Setting or Location for Your Story
The setting is another important element of a short story. It includes both the time and the location in which your character exists. A good setting helps the reader to better visualize the story. You can use your state or local area or places you’ve traveled to in the past and recorded in your entries.
Often in our diaries, we tend to write about how we feel and what we see, hear, touch, and smell. Be sure to use as much detail as possible from your diary. For example, if you recorded your first swimming experience, you can use the entry to describe how your character felt in the water, where the water is located, how the water smelt, etc.
Write the Story Plot
To create an intriguing story and one that pulls the reader in, you need to create a plot from one or more of your diary entries. Typically, the plot is a series of events on which the entire story is based on. It should have a beginning, middle, and an end so that the reader can understand the story from start to finish.
When creating a plot from your diary entries, it doesn’t need to be masterful or unnecessarily complex. Since it’s a short story, you only need one or two big events. You can use events you recorded about your childhood or teenage years. You can include events from different entries in your diary to make a complete plot.
However, the events should logically develop in the context of the story. Ensure that each word and sentence you write from your diary entries build towards the plot. Also, if you have a diary entry that contains these elements and details, you can use it as a short story since it can stand on its own.
An example of where an entry or a series of entries is used as a standalone short story is Stephen King’s “Survivor Type,” which tells a horror story with a series of entries from the diary of a disgraced surgeon. This form allows you to show the character’s emotions, feelings, and reflections at different points.
What to Consider When Writing a Diary Entry as a Short Story
Turning a diary entry into a short story will require a structural change to allow your readers to understand and flow along with the story. While you should write in your character’s voice, it is important to avoid using the grammar and style they would use. The shape of your short story must be kept definite and well-documented throughout.
For example, if your character is a thirteen-year-old from an entry written when you were at that age, you shouldn’t write the way a thirteen-year-old would. To make the story more realistic, you can use the word choices, content, and sentence style someone of that age would use. You need to make it as readable and convincing as possible.
When you’re using an entry or a series of entries as a short story, it should be narrative and written in the first person from the character’s point of view. It should also contain emotive language that connects with the reader, and the entries or events that make up the plot should be in chronological order.
You can also read real diaries of other people to have an idea of how others put down snapshots of their daily life. Some of the great real diary entries that were eventually published as stories or books include Anne Frank’s “The Diary of a Young Girl,” Virginia Woolf’s “A Writer’s Diary,” and James Boswell’s “London Journal.”
If you’re looking to create a short story, your diary can be a good place to start. One or more entries from your diary can be used to create a captivating short story. A single diary entry can be a short story if it contains the important elements that make up a good story.
You can also use a series of entries written in narrative form and ordered chronologically as a short story. If the key story elements are not present in these entries, you can get creative and experiment with the entries until you have a good piece. If some of the entries are too dramatic and intense, you can add some fiction to make it more engaging and readable.
- Writing Forums: Are diary entries effective in fiction?
- Eva Langston: 5 Challenges to Writing a Diary Novel
- Yahoo Answers: Can a Diary Entry Be a Short Story?
- Stack Exchange: Text structure in a fictional diary
- Quora: How Do I Write a Diary Entry from a Character’s Point of View?
- MasterClass: The 5 Essential Elements of a Good Story
- Reedsy Blog: How to Write a Short Story in 7 Steps