Holly Jackson’s A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder (which I was drawn to because of the title) is written in part as interviews, emails, and entries into a digital document. It’s sequel, Good Girl, Bad Blood (which I have yet to read but will), involves a podcast. I’ve read other books with interesting formats before, but A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder really had me thinking about what forms stories could take. Here’s a list of seven potential formats for books that go beyond emails, letters, and podcasts.
One-Sided Phone Conversation
There are plenty of phone conversations in books, but this book provides its readers with only part of this conversation and leave them to figure out the rest. The book itself is a puzzle, a mystery, perhaps completely intelligible. Whatever the result, it would certainly stand out.
What I mean, here, is that the characters in the book, for whatever reason, only speak to each other in morse code, whether it’s because they live in connecting apartments or connecting prison cells. Perhaps this would make a good COVID era format for unfortunate neighbors, who probably fall in love because that’s how stories tend to go. Of course, this format also could mean the entire book is written in Morse code, in which case it would offer realism, but I feel, personally, that looking at so many dots and dashes in a row would make my eyes refuse to focus.
People in movies always seem to be writing “HELP” on the edges of glorious beaches after they become stranded, so why not revolutionize it as an actual form of communication? The poor people would have to be stuck for an extended period of time and have lots of sticks in order for the book to be anything more than a few pages.
Shopping Lists and Receipts
Do you buy items that you don’t list? Do you not buy everything that is on the list? Is it possible to have an elaborate conversation through objects? This format is the place to try. I feel as if the average shopping list is composed largely of food, so perhaps a food-based book would work, unless the characters are vampires or something.
I’m curious whether you can read through a person’s writing for school and tell what’s generally happening to them based on what they choose to write about. Could my teachers divine all my secrets through my homework? I suppose I’ll never know. Serving partially as a book of interesting facts and partially as a story, this book could be easily confused for someone else’s book of essays and may actually be just a book of essays. Grades and edits are optional.
A Book entirely based around computer stickers
At least in my experience, a lot of people have stickers on their computers, so why not turn it into a form of communication? I feel like I’m making it sound like a spy thriller where the characters send messages through stickers. It should definitely be this, but I’m open for other suggestions as well.
On the first day, a person predicts the future, and from then on the reader learns of the life of the person asking questions, as well as the skill of the person making the predictions. I’m not sure whether this particular book would be more interesting with something who doesn’t know what they’re doing or someone who does. Perhaps a person who makes predictions in a random order and therefore seems fake at first.