1. MWB

    MWB Active Member Contest Winner 2023

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    Newspaper articles in stories, thoughts?

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by MWB, Jun 17, 2020.

    The novel I'm working on revolves around a past event, and several related newspaper articles about that event. They're not the focus of the plot, but they are a fairly critical part of the 'discovery' of the plot.

    Currently I've just got them written in as headlines, with the content of the articles being discussed/narrated, rather than actually including the written articles within the text of the story. But I'm wondering if this is too vague...would the reader rather see the articles, and read them themselves, or just read about their contents?

    Including them seems so direct...the articles serve as 'clues', but just writing about them peripherally seems like it could be too vague.

    Thoughts?
     
  2. Lazaares

    Lazaares Contributor Contributor

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    It has been one consideration for me to dump information about the world without it feeling a dump. That pretty much failed as they still very much felt like info-dump so I cut them for now.

    I found if there's another way to reveal the information, then that should be used. And if there is no other way to reveal the information but to present a newspaper headline or newspaper discussion, then perhaps it is better cut alltogether.
     
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  3. Homer Potvin

    Homer Potvin A tombstone hand and a graveyard mind Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Could go either way. What you're describing is called an "epistolary" style: including direct articles, diary entries, letters, emails, etc...

    Plenty of authors have had smashing success doing so. Steve Kluger has written several novels that entirely composed of letters/articles/correspondence. Of course, other authors, as with anything else, have totally bungled the epistolary idea. And readers have their own preferences. I'm not saying epistolary is gimmicky, but I could see certain readers never giving the book a chance.

    Like with anything else, it's all about the execution. I would read some epistolary works first and see what you like/dislike about them. If you're into baseball or 1940s American culture, The Last Days of Summer by the aforementioned Kluger is outstanding. It's about a famous baseball player that strikes up a fan mail relationship with a young boy on the eve of WWII.
     
  4. Xoic

    Xoic Prognosticator of Arcana Ridiculosum Contributor Blogerator

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    Apparently Dracula is entirely written in epistolary fashion, though I've never read it.
     
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  5. Damage718

    Damage718 Senior Member

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    You beat me to it. Stoker wrote the whole thing as a series of diaries and letters and it worked rather well :cool:
     
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  6. MWB

    MWB Active Member Contest Winner 2023

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    I didn't realize there was an entire style of writing surrounding my question. Learn something new every day, eh? *grins*
     
  7. lucidink

    lucidink New Member

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    I wouldn't include the entire newspaper article because that would probably be too tedious to read. I might mention the headlines and I may choose include some quotes from the articles. Then I would just sum up the rest.
     
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  8. MWB

    MWB Active Member Contest Winner 2023

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    I did something along these lines (no pun intended) that has passed first-draft status. There are actually 4 articles in question that provide foundation & a certain amount of backstory. The discovery of which is a part of the story.

    The first article is introduced as just a headline, with select lines quoted or commented into the story. The cut-out article is discovered among some papers and the MC reads it.

    Then, several weeks and a couple chapters later in the story,
    The second article is introduced in its entirety, as the 'reveal', since it is the follow-up article to the first one and something of an info dump, the MC is viewing it onscreen (microfiche) so it makes visual sense for the reader to see it also. It also sets up the 3rd article's reveal.

    The third article is introduced entirely also (it is the shortest, with just two sentences), the MC is viewing it onscreen, and its discovery is essentially the cliffhanger ending for the chapter, so it works.

    The fourth article is introduced as only a headline as it only provides a peripheral plot point that isn't mentioned until later, and it's also quite long.
     
  9. GraceLikePain

    GraceLikePain Senior Member

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    Maybe have an entire chapter be an article. That way it feels stylish and not like an interruption of the main narrative.

    In The Napoleon of Notting Hill, GK Chesterton has chapters where a character's articles appear in the story. My only problem with those bits is that the articles were written in very exuberant terminology, but if they were made like the articles of today, they would be fine. They were also "written" by a major character posing as a journalist, so they had the aspect of revealing the perspective and intentions of that character.
     
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