How To Write an Epistolary Narrative

A novel or story can be told through letters, diaries or other personal documents.Some of the most well-known examples include Helen Fielding’s diary and the vampire novel.The first thing you need to do is develop your plot structure and characters.You’re ready to draft and revise your story after planning out how to use the letters in your work.

Step 1: There is a basic structure to a narrative.

You need a story to tell before you can write an epistolary narrative.Before you start thinking about writing the letters in your story, you need to develop a narrative.The narrative should transition from exposition to resolution in the simplest terms.If you mapped the tension of a story on a line graph, it would rise gradually, climax at a sharp peak, and then fall back down as the situation resolves.

Step 2: Background information can be provided in the exposition.

The main characters, setting and mood are three things you need to establish as your story begins.When the plot gets more complicated, your reader will be able to follow the twists and turns of the story.Who is the main character and who are the most important secondary characters?Is there a villain?Who is writing the letters and who is receiving them?Where and when does the story take place?A clear picture is important to the reader.A story might refer to where the main character is in his or her life.Is your main character reading diary entries from childhood?A child is writing letters.The reader wants to know what the story is about.Comedies should be happy from the beginning.If your main character is a tortured hero, there should be angst from the beginning.

Step 3: During the rising action, present the main character with conflict.

Readers won’t care if your story has conflict in it.Conflict is classified into three categories: internal, external and situational.Most good stories have a combination of them.The main character’s internal conflict is his struggle with himself: regretting past mistakes, struggling with insecurities, and grappling with important decisions.Judy Bloom’s books explore internal conflict.In George Orwell’s 1984 there is a struggle between a person and a societal system.There are circumstances that get in the way of the main character.Your hero is rushing to apologize to his mom before she dies.He got locked out of his apartment and the taxi got stuck in traffic.The flight is delayed when he arrives at the airport.

Step 4: The conflict should be brought to a head at the end.

After the tension from all your conflicts has built up, this should happen close to the end of your story.If your readers are close to the edge of their seats, have your hero face his most important conflict head on.In the moment, he should face both internal and external conflict.The school bully is confronted in your climax.The external conflict is the bully.The main character lacks confidence in the internal conflict.There will be two obstacles in the climax.

Step 5: The tension needs to be released in the resolution.

This is a return from the tensest moment in the story to a place where the reader imagines the character will spend the rest of his life.This doesn’t always have to be a happy ending.The main character in a happy or comic ending is happier than he has ever been before.Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty are examples of happy endings for children’s stories.The main character might lose everything in a tragic resolution.Hamlet died at the end of Shakespeare’s play.

Step 6: A denouement should be included.

There is a section in the falling action that ties up loose ends.The person who solved the mystery might explain how they did it.If you are writing a different kind of story, you may need to explain how things ended.What happens to his children if he dies in the scene?How are the relationships with him going?

Step 7: Decide how much of the story will be written.

There is no single formula for writing an epistolary narrative.Some novels are written in letters.They start the chapters with letters, then go back to traditional narration.Don’t feel pressured to tell the whole story through letters, even if you want a ten-page story.It will be easier to combine the letters with narration if you are just starting out as a writer.How much of the story you want to tell is up to you.

Step 8: Determine who will be speaking in the letters.

Stephen Chbosky limits the point of view to a single character in The Perks of Being a Wallflower.The main character in this novel is a teenaged boy named Charlie.The letters can be used to present multiple voices.The main characters in this novel are Jonathan Harker, Mina Murray, Dr. Seward, and Lucy Westenra.

Step 9: Determine who the letters will be addressed to.

There isn’t a single strategy for writing these letters.All of the letters in the book are diary entries.Diary entries and letters written between characters are mixed with newspaper clippings.It is easier to choose a single recipient for all the letters if you are new to the form.Whether the letters are written to a person or diary entries to oneself, this will allow you to really develop the relationship.You can play with a variety of people.

Step 10: The letters can be used to deepen characters.

We organize our thoughts when we write them down.A letter to a friend is likely to be more honest than a real-time conversation.The speaker’s voice and personality can be developed completely by using these letters.Show us how their mind works.Put the truth of how the writer feels about the person into the letters.The person reading the letter is important to the writer.The audience won’t enjoy reading letters if they sound like diary entries.

Step 11: The gaps should be left for realism.

Even for the most dedicated of writers, life gets in the way.Your characters may not have as much time to write as they used to.It is not realistic to write a letter to your best friend on the day of an alien attack.Before you date the letters that address them, allow a little time to pass.The writer should say “Sorry I haven’t e-mailed in a few days.”My sister is in the hospital again.She can go home next week, but I am still scared.

Step 12: How to format your letters is up to you.

There are options to choose from even with a simple diary entry.A younger character could choose to begin every diary entry with “Dear Diary” or give the diary a name to make it feel more personal.An older character might put the date at the top of the page and start writing.If you are writing letters, you don’t have to format them the same way you would in real life.The reader might not like seeing the return address listed.

Step 13: An outline can be created.

Make an outline of major events so you know how the plot will progress.The main points of the story are sketched out in the outline.You will be able to keep track of what you are building as you write the story.When does the plot begin to move?It happens at the end of the exposition.Conflicts come into play during your action.The stakes should be raised and the tension raised in each conflict.What information would you like to include in your obituary?The reader will ask about loose ends that need to be tied up.

Step 14: Write your first draft.

Don’t worry about making mistakes in your first draft, it’s not important.The first thing you want to do is get the story right.Developing your characters and building tension are the things that will make your reader invest in your story.To remind you of how your plot needs to progress, use your outline.

Step 15: Don’t get upset.

It’s really hard to write a story.You don’t have to show it to anyone until you are ready.Only your eyes can see this first draft.It is where you are working out how to get from point A to point B in the plot.If you want to enjoy the process, don’t get hung up on how your draft is not perfect yet.You should focus on your accomplishments.When you nail this scene, it will feel great.

Step 16: Work your way through the writer’s block.

Don’t feel alone!Every writer has a writer’s block.Don’t fret if your outline is not helping you move past it.You can’t do anything else but keep writing.Before you finish your story, your first draft will be heavily revised.It’s possible to remove as many terrible versions of a scene as you want.It may be a good idea to put this story aside for a while.If you start another large project, you might abandon this one.It is possible to get your hand moving by free-writing about a fond memory.You can come back to this story when you are ready.

Step 17: Stay as long as you need to.

The revision process is where the real work of writing comes from.It’s not possible to write a perfect story on the first try.Several drafts of the story will be produced by a good writer.Instead of writing and revising at the same time, give yourself time between drafts.A small amount of time will give you perspective and distance.You will be able to see where the story needs more work.

Step 18: Be your own critic.

It is easy to fall in love with your baby.You have the right to be proud of your work and love it.You have to be cold to your own work while you revise.Imagine you are a reader for the first time.Do parts of the story drag?Do you want to shorten them?Some transitions are not unreasonable.Is it realistic for the love interest to fall in love with the main character when she breaks up with her boyfriend?The work of ironing out those transitions should be done if not.Have you used the strongest language?Look for sentences that sound weak or awkward.Strengthening them should be the focus.