Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Epistolary Narration

You're probably scratching your head at the word "epistolary," so let's get Wiki'd first before we begin discussing this. 

Some popular examples of "epistolary novels" are: Bram Stoker's "Dracula," Mary Shelley's "Frankenstein, Alice Walker's "The Color Purple," Anne Frank's "Diary of Anne Frank," and any novel where the narration is told exclusively through journal entries, newspaper articles, and other forms of written media.  

I've never written a story with this narration style before. Good lord, the epistolary literary device is a tricky business! Because I can't go into "real-time" to bring my reader into the story, I am forced to really think outside the box to paint a scene and also characterize my characters (without info-dumping!!!!) It is deceptively challenging to pull off. However, I'm having fun playing with this narration style.

Yes, I was mostly inspired by Z for Zachariah, but also by this novella I read recently by an indie author, Steven Katriel's The Portrait of Alatiel Salazar.  If you're into "old skool" gothic horror, give dear old Steven Katriel a read. The book is reminiscent of Bram Stoker and Charles Dickens. 

What I like about "journal-narration" is how "personal" it is. Since the reader knows the narrator is a "real person" and not some omniscient figure, there's a greater sense of urgency, I think. What are your thoughts on epistolary narration? Have you ever written it before? 


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