Betrayal, conspiracy, addiction…oh my

CindyCarrollE I discovered something about my new book on my way to writing 50,000 words (I’m still behind on that) for National Novel Writing Month. It’s got a lot of stuff going on. For this year’s NaNoWriMo challenge I decided to write a new to me genre. Well, the new adult is new. The dystopian, not so much. I’d started a dystopian story before (still have to finish it) that also dealt with betrayal and government conspiracies. Hmmm. Is there a pattern there? Can you have a dystopian story that doesn’t include a government system that’s totally corrupt and not in the citizens’ best interests?

I was starting to write this month and realized, besides not having plotted out enough story, I hadn’t done any actual research for my book. I’m not into politics or government so creating a new government was difficult. Creating a corrupt government wasn’t so difficult. Power is addicting. The more you have, the more you want. I wrote a few notes down about the government system and hope that if I have at least a plausible explanation for how the government came to be the way it is, that will suffice. Did I mention that I need to work on my world building skills?

Then I encountered another problem. As I was writing a scene I was thinking about a few scenes in the future so I had to stop for a moment and research sweat. It will all make sense if you read the book. 🙂

At this point it will probably take me just as long to do the research as it will to write the book. So for now I’m putting notes in as I write -> (COMA RESEARCH HERE) and moving on. I have a list of topics I have to investigate so the novel will be filled with these little reminders.

What I didn’t have to research was betrayal. How it affects someone. How hard it is to trust after you’ve been betrayed. My main protagonist starts out starry-eyed and happy. Eager to do her civic duty. I kind of feel bad for her because I know all the pain, betrayal and danger she’ll find herself in later on. I normally don’t like to torture my characters but that makes for boring fiction. So I’m getting better at throwing a bunch of stuff at them and making them deal with it. Luckily for her she has three books to work out her issues.

I’ve got a play list for the trilogy on Spotify.

What do you think about research dumped into a story? For the dystopian novels out there do you care how the world got to be the way it is? Or do you just care about what’s happening to the characters now?

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ReflectionsFinal2A road trip goes wrong for a group of friends trying to help one of them get over a break up. They find an inn where the mirrors are cursed and they realize they don’t know each other as well as they thought they did.

A road trip without a plan sounded like a good idea when Lena and her friends hit the road. A mini vacation and support for Steve, recently dumped, have the friends travelling through small towns and back roads. After hours of driving in the heat in a cramped car they’re all ready for something to eat and a good night’s rest. Reflections Inn looks perfect for the group of friends. A little run down, it hides a supernatural horror.

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22 thoughts on “Betrayal, conspiracy, addiction…oh my

  1. Background is necessary in fantasy. Just have to make sure to stay away from info-dumps. Even well-known authors have been known to fall into that trap. I’d bought an audiobook to help me cope with a nine-hour drive from NC to Ohio, and there was a background info-dump that went on and on and on and on. Where was that author’s editor? I guess you can become so well known that even editor’s will leave your words alone.


  2. I think most novels involve as much time on research, or more, as on the writing. Sounds like an interesting novel! And from a very creative mind. Good luck and imagine it is fun to write.


  3. I find notes useful when writing. For me, when I do non-fiction, I will find myself in the midst of telling the story and realize I need to put it in context and I don’t have it at hand. Rather than breaking the groove, I’ll make a note and move on. If the muse is singing in my ear, I better listen and keep on writing. Best on this series. Doris


  4. Good Luck Cindy, sounds like you’re getting it all together. I have enough time to write one book at a time, I don’t know if I could think far enough ahead to do a Trilogy. Cher’ley


  5. I do tons of research for my books, mostly because of the era they are set in and the history of the circus in the 1800’s. It’s actually one of my favorite parts of writing. Without that research your book would not be credible. I would imagine the same to be true in dystopian fiction, although you definitely have more leeway. I would want to know why the government is the way it is, if only a short version, so I could better understand why the characters act the way they do and the plot is made clearer. Good luck Cindy. This is a great post and one we should all seriously consider.


    1. Thanks. Yes, there is a little more leeway in dystopian fiction because you’re building the whole world. It just needs to make sense. Readers need to believe something happened that made the government the way it is. I just need to figure out how to drop that in there without it sounding like an info dump.


  6. Good luck on NaNoWriMo. I’ve tried it twice and never finished, but I did get +30k each time that led to full works. Research can come later, just chase the story. Drama is about characters with wants and obstacles in their way – regardless of the genre. You can paint the gray atmosphere and political sausagework later. Best of luck. I’ll try to look up your Spotify playlist.


      1. The link in the post should take you right to my playlist, if it’s working properly. If not the Cindy Carroll that’s me is the one that has the same picture as my comments here (and my profile on Facebook).


  7. I high five you for trying the NaNo! I definitely couldn’t do it with my current home situation but I’m not even sure I’d manage if I lived alone, either. Regarding the research- I feel really annoyed, as a reader, if something just doesn’t ring true, or if I know the research just hasn’t been done and something’s been ‘invented’. I think even with dystopian there has to be a ‘reasonableness’ about the world you’re creating.


  8. The research is important–because, as you say, the world you build has to work, to make sense, at least within the confines of the story. And world building is hard work. I do the same thing you do. I’ll get to a point where I know I need to do more research, and I’ll leave a “research X” note to myself in the draft. Then once the research is done, I go back, fill in the holes, rewrite anything else that has to change, etc. If the problem is too big to just note and move on, I step away from the actual draft for the time necessary to do the research and thinking, note scribbling and diagramming, or whatever else I need to do to get the kinks worked out, and then dive back into drafting. Good luck reaching the 50,000 words! And if you don’t technically win NaNoWriMo, you’ve still got a lot of writing done this month, Cindy. So you’re a winner anyway!


  9. While you don’t want to do info dumps you do need to know your world inside and out or it won’t come across as believable. So have fun creating your own world and let the fun show on the page. Good luck with NaNo.


  10. I’ve run into some of the same troubles as I’ve been writing my novel this month, and it side-tracked me. I’ve decided to “push on through” and leave the research for later. Glad to read your post, Cindy, and discover I’m not alone as I had become frustrated and about to give up. Reading your post, and attending the writing class I had the other night, have both inspired me to “keep on keepin’ on!” Best of luck to you!


  11. For you and everyone brave enough to tackle NaNoWriMo, keep going you are almost there. I think a little ( tiny bits here and there) backstory on how things came to be works well. Just don’t get sidetracked from what is happening to the characters.


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