Writing a diary entry is made simple by using the following steps. This post is an extract from my new spelling workbook ‘Writing with Stardust’ now on Amazon. I hope it clarifies all the ‘do’s’ and ‘don’t's’ of a diary entry.
TEACHING A DIARY ENTRY
The diary is your dog. This is a controversial statement, but it is true. A dog is your best friend. You can tell him your innermost secrets, your darkest fears and your most precious hopes for the future. Unlike some humans, he will never betray you by telling someone else. That is why you should tell your diary everything. Treat the diary the same as a conversation that you would have with a dog about the day just gone. Use the K.I.S.S philosophy also-Keep It Simple, Silly! There is no need to use big, awkward words as you probably wouldn’t put them in your own diary. Underneath is a list of ‘Do’s’ and ‘Don’t’s’.
|Do use the past tense mostly. It’s a mini-memoir of the day just gone.||Don’t use the present tense unless you are at your desk writing a diary entry.|
|Do use short sentences. You are writing to yourself.||Don’t complicate the syntax, the sentence construction, with long sentences.|
|Do explore as many emotions as the day just gone requires.||Don’t just rattle off emotions in a list. Explain why you felt as you did.|
|Do use train-of-thought. This means write it as you felt it.||Don’t ramble or use too much formal language. Keep it simple, silly.|
|Do use the diary as a self-exorcism of sorts. Use the diary to get things off your chest.||Don’t use excessively emotional language unless the situation warranted it.|
|Do mention features of nature that you encountered, but don’t over-indulge.||Don’t use too much omniscient (descriptive) language. A diary doesn’t want to know.|
|Do use humour as a writing technique that everyone can enjoy.||Don’t put in too many big words (grandiloquent language).|
|Do use rhetorical questions that can only be answered by you. It varies the writing style.||Don’t over punctuate, put in quotation marks or direct speech. It is not a novel.|
|Do use the future tense at the end of the diary entry. Look forward with joy or dread to tomorrow.||Don’t use the past continuous tense where possible (i.e. I was walking). I walked is fine. It will trip you up if you try it.|
|Do remember to ‘sign in’ with Dear diary and ‘sign off’ however you please.||Don’t forget to sign off! ‘Bye for now or ‘Till tomorrow is fine.|
There really is no such thing as different levels of language in a diary entry. There are merely different patterns of thought and structure. By employing techniques such as humour and rhetorical questions, a student can have a very engaging and enjoyable diary. If a student is asked to write the diary of James Joyce, there is an argument to be made for flowery, ornate language. Otherwise, it should be more like Forrest Gump; short on verbosity, but packed with emotion! The next page includes a sample diary entry of a student going on a school trip to a forest; a real one, not a Gump! The emotions are in bold and the rest of the diary should be finished by the students in simple language. The educator should also make out a grid of emotions based on the student’s level of ability. The categories could be: happy emotions, sad emotions, overjoyed emotions, angry emotions and self-confident emotions etc.
DIARY ENTRY FOR A FOREST OUTING
Why oh why does the world hate me so? My English teacher told us yesterday not to use big words when writing a diary but what does he know about catastrophe? Has he seen the end of the world like I have seen it, the end of days? Stupid forest. Stupid bees and stupid teachers. Look at my face. I feel horrified.
The shame of it is that I was enjoying myself. We pulled up on the bus and I have to admit it was beautiful. It was a leafy paradise with ferns like something out of a Tolkein novel. The birds were carolling, the bees (those damned bees!) were humming like hairdryers and everyone was excited. Even my stony heart was happy for a short time. I knew it couldn’t last though. Billy No-Mates was given special permission by the principal to come on this trip. Even his mother doesn’t leave him outside. How in the name of god did the principal think it would work out? You know how he is, diary. I might have mentioned him before. Serial killer eyes, his knuckles scrape the ground when he walks and he has a mad cackle instead of a laugh. He disgusts me because he’s a bully.
What he did to us with that bees nest was shameful…..