Historical novel

by Carole

Question: I have written a historical novel covering a 20 year period, encompassing 3 wars. I used a soldier's diary as a vehicle to provide historical facts about the wars. It is quirky and humorous. I got very positive feedback from an agent but he said he thought the diary format didn't quite work Unfortunately he did not say why! I made the other changes the agent suggested but I like the diary. I gave each diary section a chapter of its own. Any suggestions/opinions about how best to incorporate this into the ms?

Answer: If this agent is reputable and willing to offer you a contract if you make the changes, and if this is your first book, I would suggest you trust his/her advice and make the changes requested. What do you have to lose?

If the agent has rejected your book but took the time to give you feedback, that's a good thing. I would suggest you show the book to some other people you trust and see if they have a similar reaction to the diary device. If they see the agent's point, you may want to revise. If they think the diary works, then maybe that is just one agent's opinion and you could approach another agent. (It's impossible for me to render an opinion since I haven't seen the manuscript nor do I offer a critique service.) I am curious if the diary entries are all about establishing the facts or if they also advance the plot (better).

If you decide to ditch the diary, look for other ways to get the necessary information across to the reader. Possibilities include the narrative voice (either a character narrator or omniscient), or having the main character know or discover the information.

Click here to post comments

Join in and submit your own question/topic! It's easy to do. How? Simply click here to return to Questions About Novel Writing.

 Step-by-Step Novel Planning Workbook

NEW! Make Money Writing Nonfiction Articles

"I've read more than fifty books on writing, writing novels, etc., but your website has the most useful and practical guidance. Now that I understand how a novel is structured, I will rewrite mine, confident that it will be a more interesting novel." - Lloyd Edwards

"Thanks to your "Create a Plot Outline in 8 Easy Steps," I was able to take a story that I simply just fooled around with and went willy nilly all over, into a clearly defined, intriguing battle where two characters fight to keep their relationship intact, and try to find a balance in control of themselves and their lives. Thanks to you, I'm not ashamed of the poor organization of my writing." - Nommanic Ragus

"I am so glad I found your site. It has helped me in so many ways, and has given me more confidence about myself and my work. Thank you for making this valuable resource, for me and my fellow writers. Perhaps you'll hear about me someday...I'll owe it to you." - Ruth, Milton, U.S.A.

"I never knew what to do with all the characters in my head, but since discovering Dramatica I am writing again in my spare time. Thank you for making this available. Yes, it is a bit complex, and it does take time, but I love it because it works." - Colin Shoeman

"I came across your website by chance. It is a plethora of knowledge, written in a simplistic way to help aspiring writers. I truly appreciate all of the information you have provided to help me successfully (relative term) write my novel. Thank you very much!" - Leo T. Rollins

"I can honestly say that this is the first website that is really helpful. You manage to answer complex questions in relatively short articles and with really intelligent answers. Thank you for taking the time to write these articles and sharing them so generously." - Chrystelle Nash

"...had no idea that a simple click would give me such a wealth of valuable information. The site not only offered extremely clear and helpful instructions but was a very enjoyable read as well. The education from your wonderful site has made me a better writer and your words have inspired me to get back to work on my novel. I wish to give you a heartfelt thanks for How to Write a Book Now, sir." -- Mike Chiero