Friday, January 17, 2014

David vs. Kat

Behind the Story of Critical Contingencies (Part 8)

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.

As I wrote David and Kat’s separate stories, there were obvious parallels – they were both FURC students with a parent high-up in the running of the compound, and the changes in the community brought them new jobs with new challenges which took them deeper into the larger story.  But I was much more interested in their differences, the contrast between these two main characters.  And how those differences would play out in the way their stories progressed.
David was a rather reluctant ‘hero’ – it wasn’t his paying attention to small details that got him into trouble, it was the way he worried about what those details might mean and his notion that other people weren’t doing enough to protect the community.  That made him feel as if he had no choice but to try and do something himself.  And that led him to follow Sgt. Rossiter all on his own, and then investigate Crystal and spy on his own mother.  Even though he didn’t have any idea what he was doing.

Which is why he nearly got himself killed and almost messed things up for everyone – despite each decision he made seeming logical to him at the time.
Kat, on the other hand, accepted the increasing challenges of her new job with relish.  Instead of speculating about what lay around the next corner, she just ran into whatever was coming at her, confident she’d be able to handle anything.  Which could have been disastrous if she wasn’t so highly competent.  Or if she hadn’t received some timely assistance on a couple of occasions when she had gone beyond what she was capable of dealing with.

But she wasn’t just reacting to her circumstances.  Kat actively looked for ways to do more than was expected of her, and that led her into more trouble and more adventure – and to saving David’s life.
Despite their different personal stories, I knew David and Kat would cross paths eventually as their roles in the larger story converged.  I wrongly assumed this wouldn’t be until the end of the book.  When I realized David’s mistakes would mean his and Kat’s stories intersecting earlier than I’d supposed, I also saw how that meeting kicked the story into high gear for the climax.

It brought each of them to a new level of engagement with, and a new perspective on, the problems they’d been working on.  It also showed that there would be no romantic twist, though before I started writing I’d imagined somewhere in the back of my brain that these two might end up together.  After I’d written their first encounter, it seemed clear that wasn’t going to happen.

By the time I’d written the end of the book, I knew for sure there would be no romance between David and Kat.  But I was pleased with the way each of their story arcs finished.
Next week:  Part 9, the Last – Personal Victories

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