Is It Cheating?

18 Nov

I’m behind on my NaNo writing. Only by 2,792 words, which is better than I thought. But I was way behind-er earlier today before I put my Operation No Boring Exposition into action.

The bad guys in my novel are part of the Knights of the Golden Circle, and I have to somehow explain who the KGC is without boring my readers to death. I was at a loss about this until I read an article (can’t remember which one now – shame on me) about how to use other methods for backstory/information dumps. The article was about a YA novel (young adult fiction for those wondering) that was set a few months after a school shooting. The protagonist is the shooter’s girlfriend and was an unwitting part of the shooting’s planning. Ooh – just remembered the name of the book – “The Hate List.” The girlfriend and the boy made lists of people/places/things they hated and he used the people list for his targets.

Anyway, the story doesn’t start with the shooting, but at the beginning of the next school year. It uses newspaper articles and emails between the couple to unravel what happened.

So I started thinking: what if I used fake newspaper articles to talk about the KGC? That would be a good, concise way of dumping a lot of information without making one character go off on a monologue. Then I started thinking about using real newspaper articles. So I did. Because they were really good. And I kept the citations as part of the text…so no plagiarism *and* I get more words. I managed to get 1,800+ words from the newspaper articles. That’s more than the 1,667 words I’m supposed to be writing every day.

I figure this NaNo thing is like the first pass at a sculpture: get the rough idea so that the next pass can work more on refining. I’m assuming that’s how a sculpture is done. The only sculpting I’ve done recently was with that Crayola modeling clay and I was making little white houses for my daughter’s Tom the Turkey. The third graders have to disguise a cardstock silhouette of a turkey. My daughter chose to make it into a board game – Life. So we had to make little white houses.

Anyway, I thought that IF this book ever gets to the point that I’m thinking about submitting it, I’ll either do more research on the newspaper citations, or I’ll write my own articles. Or maybe having authentic articles in there will be a bonus. I’ll worry about that later.

So, for those of you keeping score at home:

I’m up to 25,547 words, I have two timelines I’m working on (now and the late 1800s), each with its own storyline, and now I’m inserting real newspaper articles into the mix. My main characters ran into a capsized livestock trailer that had been carrying chickens outside of Dublin, Texas, so when I start writing again on Friday, the main characters will go try some of the authentic Dr. Pepper they sell in Dublin.  From the Dublin Dr. Pepper website: “What makes us unique? Besides being the oldest Dr Pepper bottler in the world, Dublin Dr Pepper also has the distinction of being bottled with Imperial Pure Cane Sugar – the original Dr Pepper formula.”

And I haven’t even gotten my protagonist to the place where all of the real action is going to happen – New Mexico. I haven’t decided yet if she’s going to have better travel or not…depends on how many more words I need. Tragedy is easy to write about.

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One Response to “Is It Cheating?”

  1. Laura November 18, 2011 at 11:58 am #

    Nice shout out to Dr Pepper. Very pleased to read that. Sounds like a great story.

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