Friday, November 11, 2011

NaNoWriMo Update
(Day 11 and counting)

Given the choice, I would rather not whip and spur an old horse. It’s just not my thing. After this week’s news, however, concerning Q.R. Markham and the recent revelations about his book, I feel compelled to once again touch upon the issue I’ve written about for my last two posts.

It is true that we learn much from reading other writers. I have learned a ton about dialogue from Elmore Leonard. I have also learned much about narrative and prolific sentence structure from the likes of William Gibson and James Lee Burke and the earlier works of Dean Koontz (his later works aren’t quite as prosaic). I have learned much about writing characters and backstory from Stephen King, trying to give little pieces that readers tend to pick up and snap together. Still, it is one thing to learn from others in an attempt to hone your own voice and craft; it is quite another to copy their work into yours, and then have the audacity to say you wrote it. While we all learn from other writers, we can never-ever-ever stoop to the level of plagiarizing their work. I can’t stress that point enough.

And enough on that subject, too.

This week has had its positives. First, my NaNoWriMo project is moving along nicely. Today, I passed the twenty-thousand marker and moved beyond twenty-one-thousand words as well. And with that I am now over forty percent of the way home. In the next day or two, I expect to roll past the halfway point. Halfway for my NaNoWriMo goal, that is; the way this novel is working, I don't expect that it will be finished until much later. My first project two years ago ran over one-hundred-thousand words. We'll see how far this one goes.

The plot is starting to come together nicely as well. At this point in the story, I have been able to see little nuggets of foreshadowing—unintentional at their origin, but quickly recognized as something that will have more voice as the story progresses. The final road map is not clear in my mind yet, but it is coming into focus far better than it did when I started. And that’s a good thing.

In my readings, I finished Stephen King’s The Girl Who Love Tom Gordon. For those who criticized it as slow and boring, I have to strongly disagree. It was a powerful story and the end touched my heart in a way that many books do not. For those who have never read it, this is one of his better works.

Those are my quick updates for now. For a future post, I am considering the prospect of sharing some personal thoughts about dialogue. While I have learned much of what I do from other masters, I have also developed strong opinions of my own.

Until next time…


  1. As always an interesting post . The first part of your post especially where you say 'Still, it is one thing to learn from others in an attempt to hone your own voice and craft; it is quite another to copy their work into yours, and then have the audacity to say you wrote it.' makes me wonder if you have seen a lot of this and that's what spurred you to write about this subject.

    It sounds like you are doing well with your Nano project! Keep up the good work.

    Helen - helen-scribbles.

  2. I don't see that plagiarism post. I guess the situation grew complex and you took it down?

    Regardless, good luck on the long haul!

  3. @John I'm obviously missing something what plagiarism post?

  4. John: For some reason, I must have added a wrong character to the coding of the link, and it reference it like I had written the post. That link has now been corrected. Thank you.

    Helen: It's not that I have seen a lot of plagiarism. A friend of mine, a poet, had to deal with the issue a year or so back, and I felt frustrated for her. The point of this posting is to spotlight the temptation that we all can run across while learning how to write. Unfortunately for some, they lift off passages from their favorite writers and then try to claim those passages as their own. I have no idea why Quentin Rowe (i.e. Q.R. Markham) felt he could do such a thing, but it's beyond the pale in my opinion. Even if he were trying to show his cleverness in trying to write a book with so many passages from several books, as some have tried to champion afterwards, I believe he's suffered a tragic lapse in judgment.

  5. Oh thank you Stephen for explaining that to me. I see he temptation when you read a great line - I love Terry Pratchett's books and I often find myself saying when I read his stuff, "oh how I wish I said that."

    But as writers we must learn to express ourselves in our own way and think up our own lines.

    Thank you as well for clearing up John's comment, I shall wonder no more. ^__^

  6. Funny, in my class we've been discussing the whole 'copying as a way of learning' thing and the idea that nothing really is totally original. Good post, and more fodder for the fire.

    Congrats on the NaNo progress. I'm 'pre-writing' in November, having fun playing with characters, plot, ideas, timeline for a novel-under-construction. Just passed the 18k mileage marker but will have a few days next week to write, write, write. Peace...

  7. Linda: Copying is a way of learning. Just like an apprentice learns from the master, so do we learn from those who have gone before. It's why we read so much--to learn how to write and to learn how to craft stories and multi-dimensional characters. And while nothing may be new under the sun, to use an old verse, there are certainly new takes on aged concepts. Stephanie Meyer is a good example.

    Where Q.R. Markham failed is that he became a thief. Literally. To take the exact words and descriptions written by others and then attempt to collect royalties on that work is nothing but theft. I personally hope he doesn't see one cent of those royalties.

  8. I LOVE The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon. In a lot of ways, I see it as King's most successful work.