Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Precipitate Action

Behind the Story of Critical Contingencies (Part 3)

Warning: this post contains spoilers for Critical Contingencies (formerly Certain Hypothetical) though hopefully not for future books in the series, and I recommend reading the book first.

Also be warned that this shows the ‘sausage-making’ aspect of writing the novel, which some of you may not want to know about.

Parts one and two described how I arrived at the basic premise (though I had to leave out certain aspects to avoid spoiling future books.)  I thought I had a good idea to start writing – a series that is, but not really an idea for a specific book.  So I had to find one.

In the premise I’d developed, I had a man with a plan.  I proceeded to ask myself – what might go wrong with it and what could be the consequences?  (The best laid plans and all that.)

One of the basic assumptions underlying the FURC and the project concealed within it was this – by the time Jonathan Miles needed to reveal the real purpose of the secured community, there wouldn’t be anyone in a position to object.  The security of the compound was based on defending against small scale threats.  (And even if he’d foreseen a larger threat, he’d have been hard put to offer an excuse for more elaborate defenses.)

So what if he was forced to act prematurely?  What if he had to reveal the real nature of the FURC project before the ‘slowpocalypse’ had taken hold, when there would be a more dangerous threat than anything they’d prepared for?

How and why could that happen?  This is where I discovered the character of Governor Roberts.  Like Miles, he’s a man who sees an opportunity in the gradual collapse around him, but he wants to use it to fulfill his personal ambition – which includes taking over the FURC.

The governor gets the state legislature to secede (and there’s a backstory there I hope to delve into in later books) and claims all Federal property for Florida.  And if the governor had been using the State National Guard to enforce martial law in the big urban centers because of the deteriorating conditions, then he would have the military means to take over the FURC.  And there would be nothing Miles could do to stop it.

Governor Roberts’ actions force Miles to take steps to defend the project, but at a time and in a way he wasn’t prepared for – which causes a number of problems.  But the central problem this story would deal with was how to prevent the FURC compound from being taken over by military force.  And since they couldn’t defend against that, Miles had to keep it from ever happening in the first place.

Knowing that the governor had at least one mole and likely others inside the FURC, Miles decided to trick the man into believing he could take over the FURC by subversion and deploy his military assets elsewhere – to keep Roberts believing that without actually seeing it become reality, and maintain the illusion until the threat of military action had been removed.

That gave me the main premise for the plot.  The next question was – who would tackle that threat?
Next week:  Part 4 – Certain Characters

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