These can serve some or all of the following purposes:
- Help tie the story together
- Help develop character
- Show the inner thoughts of the character
- Add to the overall style or theme
- Give cohesiveness to the story
- Help move the story along
- Give the reader something to anticipate
I've written eight books and I've used a recurring story device in five of them!
Moonpie and Ivy:
The main character writes postcards to her mother (who has abandoned her). I ended every other chapter with the postcard. I've had teachers tell me that when they read that book to their students, the kids loved the postcards. They looked forward to them.
The postcards helped the main character express her feelings, which changed and evolved as the story unfolded. Some examples:
Dear Mama: I hate you. Love, Pearl Dear Mama: Ivy asked me to stay here and be her daughter and I said yes. Goodbye. Love, Pearl
Fame and Glory in Freedom, Georgia
The characters were studying for a spelling bee by using the dictionary. I used letters of the alphabet throughout the book. For example, "By the time we got to 'L'..."
This was a great device to help move the story along and helped the reader keep track of where we are in the story as they studied for the spelling bee.
Taking Care of Moses
The main character draws pictures at the end of every other chapter.
These helped show the character's feelings.
How to Steal a Dog
The main character keeps a journal that starts out as a "how-to" manual but turns into an expression of her feelings about what she has done. This served to show the evolution of her guilt over her actions and her need to do the right thing.
The Small Adventure of Popeye and Elvis [WIP]
The main character's grandmother teaches him a new word each week. He recalls the vocabulary words throughout the story and uses them as they apply to a particular scene. This serves as a thread throughout and helps develop the character.