Friday, July 4, 2014

Solving the Puzzle

Behind the Story of Millennium Crash (Part 9, the Last)

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.

Not having known what a lot of the pieces of the puzzle were when I started writing, much less understanding how they would all fit together, it was only as I approached the climax of the book that I saw the picture clearly.  And even then, with the way different parts from different times in different storylines corresponded with each other, I had to pay close attention to make sure I had a firm grip on what I’d written.  Otherwise I wouldn’t have been able to write the end of the book, because it was in examining what had come before that I saw what was needed to complete the picture.

The end of Sam and Bailey’s story wrapped up without a problem – by the time I got there, it was almost predestined.  The difficulty was in knowing how Anya’s struggle to unite the time-travelers would come to a head, and how Matt and Page’s story would fold back into that main plot.  Realizing that began with going back to the beginning, and seeing that Anya’s casual retrieval of the professor’s time-travel device would come back to bite her.  Then it was obvious that the lawyer Hollingsworth would have to make a reappearance.

In a way, it was just taking a lot of points that had already come up – things the characters had done, the way the watches had been shown to work, how the trust operated, etc. – and figuring out how the dots connected.  But that makes it all sound too simple.

Really it was more like solving a quadratic equation.  Going back over what I’d written up to the climax, I established the known quantities so I could solve for the only x and y variables that would make sense for the story.  Which was how Turner’s incomplete website, Verity’s position at the bank, the time-travelers’ need for legal identification, and the attorney representing the trust all slotted in perfectly to solve Anya’s problem with taking the professor’s watch and the police’s possession of it.
The biggest challenge for me came when it was time to rewrite the story.  It was like reviewing one’s work after finishing a complicated math problem.  I had to check that each individual step along the way was correct, or the final answer couldn’t be.  Then I had to make sure I fully grasped this convoluted puzzle that I hadn’t planned out, that I understood precisely how all those small complicated pieces fit together so elaborately – so that I wouldn’t mess anything up as I reworked the way the story was told.

And when I examined everything, I discovered that some of the bits of background in this book would also be important pieces in stories yet to come.

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