Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.
It's a diary. What a surprise!

A Diary is a written work chronicling a period of time for an individual or entity. Diaries are similar to Autobiographies in nature, but are written in a daily format and are generally not intended for publication. Nevertheless, many diaries have been published, and give us great insight into the times, people, and places they center around.

The most commonly known kind of diaries are written by private individuals for their own use (also called journals or logs), but institutional diaries, such as business records, also exist. In modern times, the Blog, from the words "web log," has become a medium of choice for personal journals made public.

Diaries are generally Nonfiction, although they can be used as a story-telling device for fictional works as well and may contain works of Fiction within the Diary itself. Fictional diaries are easy to publish in serial formats like the Web Serial Novel.

See also Secret Diary, Scrapbook Story, Epistolary Novel, and Captain's Log.

Examples of Diary include:

Nonfiction Examples


  • The Diary of a Young Girl, the diary of Holocaust victim Anne Frank.
  • Mary Chesnut's diary of Southern life during The American Civil War, published under various titles
  • The Diary of Samuel Pepys: 1660-1669 life in London
  • Mein Widerstand (My Opposition) 1939-1943 by Friedrich Kellner, life in Nazi Germany
  • Journal des Goncourt (Goncourt Journal), 1851-1896 by brothers Jules and Edmond de Goncourt, about the French Second Empire
  • Diary of Marie Bashkirtseff 1873-1884 by artist/early feminist Marie Bashkirtseff, published by family members after her early death
  • Diary of Anais Nin 1914-1974 by author Anais Nin, her personal life and detailed portraits of her friends and family
  • Diary of George Templeton Strong 1835-1875. New York lawyer and musician, also writing during the Civil War, detailed descriptions of culture, politics, current events. Both Chesnut's and Strong's diaries were heavily used in Ken Burns' documentary The Civil War.
  • The Reagan Diaries
  • Prayers for Bobby has sections of the book that are diary entries of an actual young man who committed suicide.
  • The Cabin Faced West by Jean Fritz, sort of Little House on the Prairie in Pennsylvania, has the heroine's diary and its mysterious disappearance as sort of a sub-subplot.

Web Originals

  • Belle de Jour: diary of a London call girl

Fictional Examples

Fan Works


  • Diaries of Adrian Mole
  • The Princess Diaries by Meg Cabot
  • The Bridget Jones Diaries
  • Charlotte Powers is presented as the journal of a fifteen year-old superhero.
  • The Dear America book series, and its spinoffs, My America, My Name Is America, and Royal Diaries. The Royal Diaries are fictional diaries "written" by real royalty, including Cleopatra VII, Elizabeth I, Mary Queen of Scots, Catherine the Great, Marie Antoinette, Grand Duchess Anastasia, and others that aren't as easy to name drop.
  • The Costa Rican novel Pantalones Cortos and its sequels Verano de Colores and Pantalones Largos. It's worth noticing that these are actually "pormediarios" as they are written "de día por medio" (every other day)
  • The Diary of Adam and Eve by Mark Twain
  • Stephen King's short story Survivor Type (collected in the anthology Skeleton Crew). The story is a diary of a man trapped on a Deserted Island.
  • Very possibly the entirety of The Dresden Files; it has been mentioned in the novels that wizards of the White Council are expected to keep journals, which they pass down to their apprentices—as well as the journals of their teachers, and their teacher's teachers, etc, ad nauseum. What Harry may well eventually receive will include the journals of Merlin. The original Merlin.
  • Catherine, Called Birdy by Karen Cushman is written in the form of a diary by a fictional girl living in the Middle Ages.
  • The Beka Cooper trilogy in the Tortall universe by Tamora Pierce is written in the form of journal entries by the titular character.
  • Dear Mr. Henshaw by Beverly Cleary, begins as a letter written by Leigh Botts to his favorite author, who encourages him to keep a diary. After the first few letters, the book shifts to the format of a diary (which is still addressed "Dear Mr. Henshaw" because Leigh thought it would make it easier to write).
  • Podkayne of Mars by Robert A. Heinlein is presented as the diary of the heroine.
  • Diary of a Wimpy Kid
  • Zoe's diary is part of the story of Saving Zoe.
  • Colas Breugnon
  • In Lawrence Block's suspense novel Ariel, Ariel keeps her diary in an ordinary school notebook so her mother won't snoop. She says she got the idea of hiding secret things in plain sight from Edgar Allan Poe's The Purloined Letter.
  • The Sacred Diary of Adrian Plass, a fictional, funny account of Christian life in England.
  • The Star Diaries by Stanislaw Lem.

Web Original

Diaries Appearing in Fictional Works

Anime and Manga

  • Midori of Midori Days writes in her journal when Seiji is asleep. Plays very important to the plot later on.
  • In Change 123, Kannami suggests that Motoko use a shared diary as a means of communication with her alters. While Fujiko doesn't write in it much, Mikiri and Hibiki certainly do. . . To Motoko's horror.

Comic Books

  • Watchmen: Rorschach's Journal, October 12.

Dog carcass in alley this morning. Tire tread on burst stomach. The city is afraid of me. I have seen its true face. The streets are extended gutters and the gutters are full of blood and when the drains finally scab over all the vermin will drown. The accumulated filth of all their sex and murder will foam up about their waists and all the whores and politicians will look up and shout "save us!" And I'll whisper "no."

    • 'Nuff said.


  • Enda's video diaries, found after his death in Red Roses and Petrol, including a dedicated poem to his wife.
  • Henry & June is based on Anais Nin's actual diaries from the early 1930s.
  • The German silent film Diary Of A Lost Girl features the titular diary, the one possession Themain manages to keep through everything.


Live Action TV

  • The Doctor keeps the 500 Year Diary in the series Doctor Who
  • Doogie Howser, M.D. ended each episode with Doogie writing on his computer diary.
  • Secret Diary of a Call Girl, which is based on the above Belle de Jour blog
  • Bobby's diary in Prayers for Bobby.
  • Sue Sylvester from Glee is sometimes seen writing quips about important events or characters in a diary, most noticeably Mr. Schue.
  • On The X-Files, Scully writes a diary to Mulder, presumably as a means to help them both cope with her impending death from an inoperable tumor.


"I keep a diary in order to enter the wonderful secrets of my life. If I didn't write them down, I should probably forget all about them."
"I never travel without my diary. One should always have something sensational to read in the train."

Newspaper Comics

Calvin: History will thank me for keeping this journal at such a young age. As one of those individuals destined for true greatness, this record of my thoughts and convictions will provide valuable insight into my budding genius. Think of it - a priceless historical document in the making! Wow!
Calvin: So who else should I add to my list of total jerks?
Hobbes: Who else do you even know?

Video Games

  • In Umineko no Naku Koro ni, Maria's diary is used by Ange 12 years after the mass murder on Rokkenjima in order to communicate with Maria herself.
  • Each chapter of Wild ARMs 5 is ended with Rebecca reading from her diary entry on it. She also tries to use her diary to explain her real feelings to Dean, but he refuses to read it out of chivalry.
  • Valdo, the protagonist of the PC mystery game Secrets of Da Vinci: The Forbidden Manuscript, maintains a diary throughout the game which provides the player with additional hints and clues.
  • Similarly to the above example, the player character in the PC adventure game Siege of Avalon keeps a diary which the player can read. It's of particular interest as the means of displaying each Nonstandard Game Over which can occur.
  • "Write in diary" is one of the action choices when the player clicks on a bookcase in The Sims.
  • You save your game in Harvest Moon by writing in a diary.
  • There are several diaries in Calling which are needed to help the story move along since you're trying to learn about the mysteries of the game.
  • April keeps a diary throughout the original The Longest Journey, which is an important source of her characterization. How she manages to update it even after being pulled into a parallel universe in just her underwear is never explained.
  • Luke's diary in Tales of the Abyss functions as both Now Where Was I Going Again? for the player and showing Character Development for Luke outside party interactions.
  • In role-playing games, diaries seem to be kept by an inordinate number of people - even those one wouldn't expect to be particularly literate or to have much interest in chronicling their thoughts or day-to-day lives. The real purpose of these diaries, of course, is to conveniently tell the protagonist exactly how to break the curse, find the hidden treasure, or what have you, without too much strain on the player's (or the game designer's) part.

Western Animation

  • Doug uses the title character's diary entries as narration. He prefers the term "journal", however. It becomes the focus of one episode in which it goes missing.
  • The Barbie Diaries features this, making the movie the franchise's most low-key fantasy endeavour.