I finished reading a book last Friday.
Today I am writing to you to talk about a grief that I know all too well, I devour my books pretty quickly.
My coping mechanism for dealing with finishing a book is to start another one. So, on Saturday, I went to the bookshop and bought myself another book (completely ignoring the pile of unread books on my bookcase).
This new book has a gimmick I quite enjoy and one I don’t see that often.
That being that the story isn’t told via a flowing narrative, instead, the story is told through a combination of journal entries, WhatsApp screen grabs, newspaper articles and interview transcripts. It’s the book version of found footage.
I enjoy stories told in this fashion for a few of reasons; I like that I have to piece the story together from evidence (though it reminds me a lot of work sometimes lol), most of the time the story is very clear from the events, but sometimes you have to use your brain a little and make certain connections. I also enjoy that stories told in this fashion often cut out a lot of waffle, the evidence you’re presented with is there for a reason, you can jump from event to event with no waffle connecting them, so stories told in this manner can be quick-paced. Fast-paced stories can be addictive, and I have to admit that I read half the book in one night before forcing myself to put it down and go to bed.
I also think this manner of storytelling taps into my nostalgia glasses (aka things always look better in hindsight/your memory than they possibly really are). One of my favourites, and first-ever, horror stories was Dracula and, as you may already be aware, that story uses this gimmick. The story is told through letters and journal entries, mostly. Also, one of my favourite non-horror books is The Colour Purple, which again is told in the form of letters with the principal character writing letters to God about her life.
I think this is possibly why I enjoy Creepypasta as much as I do as they are often told in the form of found footage.
However, the thing I notice most of all is that there are not that many books use this gimmick. I mean there are a fair few; I come across it now and again, but stories that use a cohesive narrative are far more common, and this got me thinking.
Are stories told in the found footage way unpopular? Or are they nice?
Why do readers prefer the flowing narrative? Is it because it’s easier to digest and follow? Or is it that readers prefer the single perspective story rather than the multiple? But if that was the case, Game of Thrones wouldn’t be the smash it it is.
Overall, I Couldn’t quite put my finger on why this way of storytelling isn’t more popular. I’d be interested in your theory’s.
3 thoughts on “Horror Writing: Found Footage in Books”
I think epistolary fiction works best in certain situations, such as in genres like historical fiction or when there’s multiple characters whose viewpoints are used to tell events in the story.
I like it in historical fiction, though I must confess I don’t read a great deal of it. I think it works in certain horror stories as well.