My NaNoWriMo Project and Epistolary Fiction

The other day I finished prepping and declared my novel for NaNoWriMo next month. I'll be writing a new adult epistolary novel titled Figuring It Out. (Title is subject to change.) The synopsis is as follows: 

Raven Larson is 25 years old, late on her rent, the unwilling pet parent of a husky named Milo, and praying to God that the electric company doesn't turn off her lights.

Fired, dumped, and feeling depressed she turns to blogging to keep her mind off her failed job interviews (five and counting). Trying to hold on to the lifestyle she once had, she starts selling off her designer handbags and shoes that Milo hasn't chewed or ruined while desperately hoping she can keep it all together and show her parents, and the world, that she is a stable young adult.

As bills go unpaid, bill collectors call more often, and her landlord threatens to evict her can Raven keep it all together?

Told through text messages, emails, blog posts, and voicemails can Raven Larson manage to get it together before everything comes crashing down around her?

I can truthfully say I cannot wait until November 1st! My hands are itching to start writing this novel and get my ideas out into the world. I've announced this project on Twitter, and I've had a lot of people ask me what epistolary fiction is, so I wanted to take some time to explain it in more detail.

What is an epistolary novel? An epistolary novel is a novel written as a series of documents. These documents can be letters, diary entries, newspaper clippings, random voicemail recordings, blogs, emails, or even text messages! An epistolary novel is then divided into one of three types: monologic (voicing only one character), dialogic (voicing two characters), or polylogic (voicing three or more characters).

One of the reasons why epistolary novels are so pleasing is because they have a way of making you feel even closer to story’s characters than the average first-person point-of-view story. You’re reading words that the characters are writing for the eyes of only one or two other people. You’re seeing a version of the story edited by the fictional people living it. As an author, I enjoy writing this way because it offers writers all kinds of exciting angles through which to not only observe characters but to present them.

Thus, I made the decision, earlier this year, to only write epistolary novels in my author career. Not only are they novels I enjoy reading, but they add a challenge, and a level of creativity, to my writing. The first book to be released in this format will be Figuring It Out. I'm also plotting another book, which I have yet to title, that I plan to start writing next summer. 

Maybe you'd like to try your hand at an epistolary novel? As with anything, there are many pros and cons to consider. Chris Bell put together a great blog post a couple of years ago that you can find here. Down below I'll include some pros and cons from her blog post.

Pros:

·       Easy way to compose a novel for a beginner

·       Manageable chunks are written one by one and built into a whole story

·       Glimpse different characters’ lives intimately

·       Opportunity to share multiple viewpoints

Cons:

·       Miss the nuances of interactions

·       Hard to show variances in characterization unless done well

·       Can become narrowly focused

·       Action occurs off-stage leading to loss of dramatic immediacy

·       Can result in lack of character variation – need to mix up letter styles and voices

·       Not every character’s thoughts may interest the reader

Did the list of cons throw you off a bit? Don't fret. I think that with enough determination, knowledge, and creativity anyone can write a good epistolary novel. God knows I've devoured enough of them to know. 

To showcase this, down below I've compiled ten examples of popular epistolary novels. Maybe you've read one, or maybe you'll find a book to add to your TBR pile. In any case, I hope you enjoy!

1.     Dracula

2.     Bridget Jones Diary

3.     Where'd You Go, Bernadette?

4.     The Color Purple

5.     Carrie

6.     The Princess Diaries Series

7.     The Boy Next Door Series

8.     We Need to Talk About Kevin

9.     The Martian

10. Diary of a Wimpy Kid

Be sure to let me know in the comments down below what you plan to write during NaNoWriMo. Also, let me know if you enjoy epistolary novels and if there are any good ones not on my list that you recommend. 

Happy Writing!

-Jade

P.S. I’ve since decided to exclusively write this novel on Wattpad. You can follow along here!