Hm. Already the blog fiction Roommate From Hell, which I mentioned yesterday, is showing signs of being translated from book to blog. Look:

I must have pissed her off by walking in. We went out together a lot—not all the time or anything, but a couple times a month—so it was a little unusual that she didn’t ask me if I wanted to go. But we’d only moved in together three days ago, and the patterns weren’t obvious yet. Maybe now that we lived together we wouldn’t hang out as much outside the house anymore.

What blogger would write “We went out together”, “we’d only moved in”, “the patterns weren’t obvious”? If you’re writing this online five minutes after your roommate left the house, you’d write “we go out” or “we usually go out”, you’d write “we only moved in together” and “the patterns aren’t obvious yet”.

The final paragraph is good. Very authentic.

OK, I’m still smelling that weird smell. I’m going to go check her room. Maybe a candle’s still burning or something.

And there’s a final “posted 11:47 pm”. But why wasn’t that online till a whole day after the first post, posted at 9:43 the same evening?

I’m a stickler for detail, aren’t I. I guess I really enjoy the real time aspect of blog narratives, and here there are breaks with that particular illusion of realism.

4 thoughts on “blogging in past tense?

  1. Brandon

    Details are important though. I think part of the problem is viewing the blog as a narrative form–even an hypertextual epistolary one. I toyed with the idea of a network narrative present in four separate blogs, and it was long before I started mapping it out as drama instead of a book–even to the point where I was going to cast the various roles and get 24 hours of webcam grabs for realism.

    To move beyond a simple marketing device, you have to write for (and in) the form, not just translate to it, no?

    BTW, in that last paragraph, I’m not sure a blog voice would include the progessive and gerund forms: “still smelling,” “going to go check.” Doesn’t blogspeak tend toward the moment, the ever-present?

    I still smell something. I should go check on it, so I’ll stop here.

  2. vika

    Hey, Jill – I don’t have your e-mail address on hand – the link to the comments RSS feed doesn’t work. Sad!

  3. Brandon

    Oops. can’t type:

    narrative present -> narrative presented
    was long -> wasn’t long

  4. Jill

    I think you’re right, Brandon – “I can still smell” or “I still smell” would both work better. And perhaps if there’d been a clearer awareness of readers, too: “I’ll report back” or something. That would of course work better if there were comments – even if the comments were fake.

    A blog narrative should really use the form – writing a narrative in “blogs” is different to writing for cinema or theatre, both of which were (well, mostly) created for the purpose of narrative. Actually that’s not true, is it. Theatre grew out of speechmaking and oral storytelling and, perhaps, ballads, and cinema was first used for documentation and spectacle, not narrative.

    I think perhaps blogs have just become a hip way of selling books. Who would have thought.

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