A Form within a Form

One puzzle I have been trying to figure out with this novel is how to tell the story of what happens to the narrator in 2009 (the main “plot”) AND the life story, which spans the first half of the twentieth century, of the architect who built the novel’s fictional house museum.  

I have been experimenting with other forms within the novel — a screenplay, a diary, an autobiography. But because there is also a frame narrative — a point of telling, along with some plot, set in the “present day” of the novel — I have found that adding in a whole other voice is making the manuscript feel chaotic. 

Maybe chaos is good. I’m open to chaos. But this week I decided to try out a form that I think will allow me to tell the story without introducing another first-person perspective. 

The blog: it might just be the most 2009 form there is. 

If I go this direction, there are essentially three stories in the novel, but they are all told by the same narrator:

  • The narrator’s present day, which is happening around 2030

  • The story the narrator is telling, which is set in 2009

  • A series of blog posts, which are written in 2009 but cover the history of the house museum, its architect, and the city from 1900 to 1950ish

What I like about a blog is that it’s a performative, self-conscious form. (How many blogs did you read back then that began, “Welcome to my blog”? So many.) 

Not only that, but in these posts, the narrator is writing as a representative of the museum where she works. So it’s an institutional voice, but there’s some playing around that can be done there — her personality can slip in more over time.  

Plus, there’s the opportunity for a comment section.

I’m not interested in writing a critique of internet culture, but I am interested in how stories are shaped by their form, and I like this idea enough to follow it down the rabbit hole. Off to write some fictional blog posts…