I'm writing a 3rd person limited multi-pov Sci-Fi. The thoughts of whatever POV is being followed at any point are sometimes shown in italicized writing. Suddenly, 42K words in, starting off chapter 11, are four paragraphs of a diary. The paragraphs are written in a different font, one that is clearly handwriting. After the diary entry, the POV is shown to close their diary, and the chapter goes on as normal.

Is a sudden and drastic, yet temporary and brief, format change like this jarring to the reader? The way I see it, it may either be entirely OK, problematic or completely off the table. If the first or last, why?

If it is problematic, how may one do it in a way that works? What does one need to consider? I don't feel like I fully grasp the consequences of doing something like this. I guess it is technically changing the story from 3rd person to 1st person. Then again, visual and narratives clues are given to show the reader that it is more like the reader is given a 3rd person view onto a diary page of the POV. It's not like the POV directly becomes the narrator, it's more like their diary narration is pulled to the forefront of the reader's perspective. But then again, that may just practically be the same thing.

2 Answers 2



If your goal is to get this read, I don't think there's an issue.

If you want to get this published with a publisher, I might use formatting (like an indent and additional lines before and after) to set this section apart, rather than font changes. I have a story with dream sequences, and this is how I set them apart. Sometimes the MC isn't the perspective character in these cutaways(the MC is viewing/experiencing the dreams from other people's perspectives), but for something clearly separate from the story, this isn't a problem. It's not REALLY first person, but more like a third person experience of a first-person document.

  • Indentation is a great idea, and I think I will do that. I don't think I'll remove the change in font though. And yeah, totally agree with that it's not really first person, but rather a third person experience of a first-person document. And thinking about that, similar to how illustrations and glyphs that characters see in stories are sometimes shown on the pages, I might instead include the diary entry as an illustration: there can be a coarse paper background with the lines that you find inside a diary. Maybe even the diary's hinge can be shown. This way, it is simply an illustration.
    – A. Kvåle
    Commented Oct 21, 2021 at 19:12
  • @A.Kvåle Good, sounds like you have a vision! Sometimes that's half the battle. Any editor who would want you to change something would already have read your stuff, and that could be a discussion for another day (it's harder to get people to read it than to love your vision).
    – DWKraus
    Commented Oct 21, 2021 at 22:12
  • Alright, thanks for the tips! Forgot to accept your answer, but I have done so now :)
    – A. Kvåle
    Commented Oct 22, 2021 at 16:04
  • 1
    @A.Kvåle No problem, it's always a good idea to wait a bit in case someone else has a better idea.
    – DWKraus
    Commented Oct 22, 2021 at 16:06

In Star Wars Thrawn, there's a lot of journal entries throughout the text. Whenever this is done, it is in italics. Throughout the book, italics are sometimes used as well when the POV switches from 3rd person, to the journalist's (Thrawn's) point of view.

I suggest using the same system, as it flowed quite well. You don't have to use the second half of the trick where you use it to switch point of view for a sentence or two mid chapter.

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