Private Journal - 12th July 2032 - Incatta, Southern India.
I heard voices in the ashram today after a car had crunched across the gravel drive. I turned my mind from the sounds, straightened my back and drew a deep, calming breath. There was more whispering--far away at first--and I tried to let it exist without intruding, without forming questions in my mind. But, like a brewing storm, the whispering gathered in the corridor outside my room. Someone tapped gently on the door. I looked up and smiled. "Come in." My first words in two weeks echoed round my head. Divali Mja peered through the gap in the door. "I am sorry to intrude into your silence, Sarah. But these men -" He opened the door further. Two men stood behind him, apologetic smiles on all their faces."-they were most insistent."
[This message has been edited by skadder (edited September 29, 2010).]
Having direct dialogue in a journal seems...odd. It was the only thing on this that felt wrong. Why is this a journal instead of just plain 1st person narration?
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If its a journal shouldn't the narration be written in the past tense?
examp - your line - I heard voices in the ashram today...
Shouldn't it be - I had heard voices in the ashram today...
It feels as if the narration is in present tense in many spots.
I guess it would depend on who your MC is expecting to read the journal. Is it for self or future readers? Because my generic understanding of logs and records is they are usually written in past tense unless it's dictation of events as they're occurring.
Interesting beginning, but the present tense is throwing me, especially the dialog which doesn't feel like it is written into a journal, but is a present dialog happening now.
This is well written, as expected, skadder. I feel a promise of either some political intrigue or some psychological suspense coming up, albeit in a slower pace than typical stories. I do have a one question, however. Is it deliberate that you are depicting her as far less calm than she is portraying? If so, then it is well done. If not, then using "calming breath" may work against her character, as it suggest that she is far from calm and therefore needing such a breath. This character element seems to clash with the expected spiritual state of calmness as produced from the last two weeks.
[This message has been edited by Brendan (edited September 30, 2010).]
"I heard voices" is past tense--simple past, I think it's called.
"I had heard voices" is past perfect, or so I understand, and implies that something else related to it happened between the present and then, for which simple past tense would be used.
When you are telling a story to someone in person, it isn't unusual to use present tense: "I'm sitting there and I hear voices," but when you write something in a journal or diary about what happened that day, the most common approach is probably simple past: "I walked, I shopped, I talked, I heard, I went, I stayed," etc.
I also feel that the writing is very good, but doesn't feel like a journal entry. 1) The dialogue 2)Noting things like a calming breath. Wouldn't Sarah take thousands of meditative breaths per day in an ashram? Why would she take note of this one in her journal?
This was the original version, but I wanted to start further back and, despite the journal entries, make it more story-like, for ease of reader immersion. I realise it isn't exactly like a journal entry would be.
The original is more journal-like. Which is fine because she is on the craft and alone, but earlier on there is some dialogue I wanted to capture. I wrote it with journal style reported speech (...he asked me what I did for a living. I frowned and scratched my chin....), but I thought it better to give Sarah a flair for story telling rather than being rigid. Readers can be put off if they think it is going to be 2-D journal style reporting rather than a story.
Still, considering the number of people that have an issue with it, I may reconsider.
Still learning the small subtleties of sentence structure. I'm still not sure if simple past tense feels right. Maybe it's just how the sentences are organized that's throwing me. I can hear in my mind how it makes sense, but for some reason when written out doesn't sound the same.
quote:"Come in." My first words in two weeks echoed round my head. Divali Mja peered through the gap in the door. "I am sorry to intrude into your silence, Sarah. But these men -" He opened the door further. Two men stood behind him, apologetic smiles on all their faces."-they were most insistent."
this part doesn't feel right for a journal to me -
Wouldn't this be written something more like -
Divalia Mia had stopped by earlier. When he knocked and I told him to come in. He had peered in apologizing for intruding on my silence. When he opened the door further I could see he wasn't alone. There were two other men with him...etc.
I'm not saying it's right. I'm just noting that it feels strange that her entry is written as dialog format that's all. (He said-She said)
[This message has been edited by walexander (edited September 30, 2010).]