In the fantasy trilogy I am currently writing, I have used a different technique in each book that provides new insights into the characters and their perspectives.
- Part One: Diary entries
- Part Two: Letters
- Part Three: Poems
I call these “interludes” – the text is interspersed with writing of a different style, which breaks it up and keeps it fresh for the reader, while also delving a little deeper into the thoughts of the characters.
The diary entries in Part One are all from the perspective of one character. She is forced to act in a certain way in public, and so her diary expresses her true thoughts; ones she doesn’t often get the opportunity to voice. In Part Two, after experiencing a difficult series of events and parting from a friend on bad terms, she writes letters to her friend, who writes back, with neither always knowing whether the letters are reaching the other. Part Three, which I am currently writing, sees each chapter start with a short poem, encapsulating the events and feel of that particular chapter. In some instances it isn’t clear which of the characters might have written it.
A well-known book I can liken this to is Captain Corelli’s Mandolin (image complete with my notes made at school about 15 years ago). If you have read this you will remember that there are letters written by Pelagia to her betrothed Mandras after he leaves for war, and a kind of memoir written by the Italian soldier Carlo about his time in the army and his love for his comrade Francesco. The novel also opens with a poem – The Soldier by Humbert Wolfe. This writing style was not used by de Bernieres in his novel as much as I have used it in mine, but it is a good technique that has stuck with me over the years and which, I feel, brings out interesting and intriguing elements of the story.
What do you think? Have you read books that have used this technique? Did you think it added something to the story, or to the way you viewed the characters?