Thursday, March 27, 2008

Blogging In Character

Well, the premise interests me.

Publishers Weekly has reported on a novel (sorry!) way to use blogging for book promotion purposes:
Hachette is taking interactivity to the next level by bringing favorite fictional characters right to readers’ Web browsers. Beginning on April 1, Hachette’s FaithWords division will have the five main characters in its new All About Us YA series begin blogging.

The blog site, www.allaboutusbooks.net, went live on Monday with a chatty post from “Lissa,” a fictional teen whose exploits at an elite boarding school will be featured in the first novel of the series, It’s All About Us by Shelley Adina, which will hit stores in May with a 65,000 copy first print run. Lissa’s troubles with boys, fashionistas, and fitting in with the trust-fund set may sound like Gossip Girls, and indeed it is—with a Christian twist, since the books deal with questions of faith. Lissa and her “besties” (that’s “best friends” in MySpace-speak) will take turns starring in the books—with The Fruit of My Lipstick and Be Strong and Curvaceous scheduled to release in August and January, respectively—but the characters will all have a presence simultaneously on the blog.

You can read the full article here.

A few thoughts:

1) I went to the site, but it seems that you have to register to access the chatty post referenced, and I wasn't up for that.

2) We all know authors who use blogs to promote their work, but do you know of authors who are blogging as their characters to do the same? How new an idea is this? Some months back I did notice "Margene's blog" on the Big Love section of the HBO Web site, so the idea of fictional blogs and bloggers evidently has some precedent. I'm just curious about other--and book-based--examples.

3) Am I crazy for trying to see some higher purpose here? Might keeping a (private) blog as a character rather than as oneself help with that always challenging task of character development? Have we perhaps discovered a new, if ongoing, fiction exercise?

What do you think?

11 comments:

Deb said...

Hmmm... very, very interesting.

I am most of the way through writing the first book of a fiction mystery series for 8-to-12-year-olds, for which my daughter Madison is giving me lots of input.

It might be really appealing to readers to have *Madison* blog as the character who is most like her. It might make a very interesting pitch to a publisher. I'll give it some more thought.

Felicity said...

I think this is a great idea for character development. I know a writer who has used a blog in this way for some time. She keeps it private, but seeing the words "in print" and being able to post pictures or videos of things your character finds interesting would surely help.

Erika D. said...

Thanks so much for the comments, Deb and Felicity.

I do think there's a lot of potential on the character development side--but far more so for characters who would be willing/able to blog in the first place. (My historical fiction characters, for instance, are simply incapable of blogging!)

Emanuel Carpenter said...

The idea turns me off. Too many authors try these gimmicks because they are free but they are incredibly difficult to measure. The next thing you know, they'll be 10,000 authors posting blogs in their characters' names.

I prefer the characters stay between the pages.

Erika D. said...

Yes, I hear what you're saying, Emanuel. Maybe that's why I think I'd be more inclined to try this myself as a character development technique. Thanks for your comment.

Shelley Adina said...

Hi all ... I'm Shelley, the author of this new series, and I can tell you that I'm not the one blogging as my characters :) I have enough work to do to get them talking on the page! LOL. The All About Us Online site is run by my publisher, and it's an experiment in a social site. I'm pretty excited about it and am looking forward to seeing it grow, especially once the first book, It's All About Us, comes out in May.

Shelley Adina
http://www.allaboutusbooks.net

Margosita said...

I think I also agree with Emanuel. I've seen Margene's blog and I didn't like it very much. I felt like it took away from her character, as it was developed on the show. I think that really good characters are more often developed through feelings and actions, as opposed to what they say or think directly. Many things should be suggested or implied or related through a character, but blogging relies too much on telling. I think it violates the old "show don't tell" rule. I can see it being useful as a personal writing tool, but I'd hate to see it become a fad in literature.

Erika D. said...

Welcome to the discussion, Shelley and Margosita!

For my part, I think I'd prefer knowing that an author herself is blogging for her characters. I can't really imagine myself, in a similar position, happily yielding my character's thoughts and writings to anyone else. To me, the blog would somehow seem more authentic with the same author penning blog and book, the same mind and soul creating the voice on the page and on the screen.

Shelley Adina said...

Your point is valid ... but I'm willing to give the experiment the benefit of the doubt and support it as much as I can. I look at it as being in a symbiotic relationship with the books. I'm not sure this has been done before so I'm committed to learning and experiencing it as I go.

Shelley

Yvonne Perry said...

I have a blog for Expressy, the character of my book, Email Episodes. At times, Expressy tells on her author because she is trying to retaliate for her exposing Expressy's shortcomings.

While, it's a lot of fun for me, I can see why it ight be confusing for readers.

Check it out at http://emailepisodes.blogspot.com if you care to. I'd like your feedback to know if it works or distracts.

Erika D. said...

Hi, Yvonne. Thanks for your comment. Your blog seems to be an interesting mix between Expressy and you. You are cited as the poster for each comment (because the blog is maintained through your profile). Your photo is on the blog, etc. And yet the author of the posts (at least those I've read) seems to be Expressy. Did you consider creating the whole blog "in character," in effect signing up Expressy for her own profile?