Friday, October 3, 2014
Getting Things in Order
Warning: this post contains spoilers for Certain Hypothetical and Threat Multiplication (though hopefully not for future books in the series) and I recommend reading those books first.
Also be warned that this shows the ‘sausage-making’ aspect of writing, which some of you may not want to know about.
Having gotten the cast of characters straight in my head and knowing how the story started, I began writing the book in order (as has been my practice) in the way I imagined it would be read – first the prologue and then chapter 1, etc. And in this case I saw no reason not to depict everything in chronological sequence as well, as long as the rhythm of the narrative worked that way. There’s a natural pace to storytelling, and I certainly didn’t want to mess with that.
I ran into trouble right away though. After the prologue, Kat’s first POV began earlier than anything happening inside the FURC, but by the time the chapter had finished, a good bit of that parallel story had taken place – because I had written that first chapter all the way through to Kat and company leaving the Cameron estate behind.
How to handle that? I could’ve just placed Lisa’s POV afterwards, but as I looked at Kat’s chapter I saw a lot of boring stuff in the middle, where everyone was packing up to leave. I hadn’t actually described all that – I had used the trick of ‘fast-forwarding’ by compressing all of it into a paragraph or two. But during all that tedium which I had glossed over was when the story was starting inside the FURC, with David and Lisa beginning their investigation into the ‘food poisoning’ incident.
So I broke one really long Kat chapter into two smaller ones and put that first POV of Lisa’s in-between. And it flowed much better that way, with Kat’s first chapter ending with her having persuaded Fiona to leave, then showing what was happening back at the compound before bouncing back to the departure of Kat and the rest.
This early in the book there was more setup than action taking place, so hopping between viewpoints helped keep the story bopping along at a nice, brisk pace. Then I just alternated back and forth between the investigation inside the FURC and Kat’s adventures on the outside, showing each important scene in succession, from the perspective of whoever was best positioned to relate what was going on. This meant there was no specific order to whose POV would come next, but it was still a relatively simple and straightforward process.
Or at least it was until the last third of the book, when the two divided storylines started to converge. Everything began happening at the same time, with everyone’s separate storylines now having a more immediate impact on the others. I could no longer show what was happening in strict chronological order. But I would do my best to get as close as possible.
Next: Part 8 – A Cascading Climax