Friday, May 16, 2014

Three for Three

Behind the Story of Millennium Crash (Part 4)

Warning:  this post may contain spoilers for Millennium Crash (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 book, which some of you may not want to know about.

Since I was starting off with the time-travelers being separated into three distinct storylines, I needed three characters whose points-of-view those stories could be told through, whose stories they would become.

The first and main challenge confronting the travelers was reuniting and figuring out what to do next – how to proceed with the work they came to do and how to get home.  As I considered this, the character of Anya came into focus right away.

A former nurse turned historian, she could pragmatically apply herself to the difficulties at hand rather than wallow in her grief over the loss of the professor.  And as the most senior research leader and the only witness to the professor’s death, she assumes the responsibility for taking care of the rest of the travelers.  She moves forward to do what she feels needs to be done in a practical, methodical fashion.

I had a more difficult time figuring out how to tell the other two stories.  One, I knew, would be a Romantic Adventure with another team leader (Page) and a year-2000 native.  But while I knew about her character, I struggled to get inside her head in order to tell that story.

It was when I looked at it from the other side, from Matt’s point-of-view, that I understood it would be better shown from his perspective.  To him, Page was a puzzle to solve and a problem (or rather a handful of problems.)  And seeing the time-travelers through his contemporary eyes created new angles unavailable from the perspectives of people who’d come from the far future.

For the third and remaining storyline, I had the villain of the piece (Kirin) and I knew what she was doing, and how and why.  Finding the right nemesis to bring her to justice took a while.  For some reason I started off with the idea that this other research assistant who would feel compelled to chase after her should be an innocent and impressionable young man.  But that never clicked for me.

It wasn’t until I found Samantha that this cat-and-mouse game began to make sense.  She was, in her way, innocent.  But she had an intense, driven personality that made her in some respects similar to Kirin – even though the two were obviously night and day in most ways.  Once I’d discovered this dynamic tension between the two women, I had something compelling to write about.
Now I had three different stories to tell and the characters who would bring them to life, but I didn’t yet know what paths they would take.  It was up to the characters themselves to show me that.
    Next:  Part 5 – The Mother Hen

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