Friday, October 17, 2014

The Final Version

Behind the Story of Threat Multiplication (Part 9, the last.  Really.)

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.

I started in on the rewrite knowing the final chapters needed some serious work.  When I got there, the first order of business was moving Tony’s last chapter right after Kat’s, so you wouldn’t have to wait to see the follow-up to how her fight ended.  So far so good.

But the end of Tony’s chapter no longer worked, with his bringing Kat back into the compound, because everything inside was resolved by that point.  Lisa’s chapter would be awfully anticlimactic if we’d already seen how it ended.  So I left Tony’s POV as he was making his way back to the FURC, to keep from spoiling the story of what was happening on the inside.

Moving Lisa’s chapter after Tony’s now meant that it began a bit further back in time, but that wasn’t a problem.  What I then had to do was extend her POV to include Tony’s return, because you really needed to see him bringing Kat back, even if it was from Lisa’s perspective.  And I actually think it worked out better that way, since the last chapter then wrapped up all the storylines together.
Now, I’d started writing this book with the intention that it could stand on its own for people who hadn’t read the first book, but I don’t think I was completely successful.  For one thing, there was the murder mystery subplot.  There were little clues scattered along the way, but even those wouldn’t have helped anyone who hadn’t read Certain Hypothetical.

Another, subtler issue was pointed out to me by some of my first readers, who felt there were too many characters and that it might be a bit confusing.  Not that there were any non-essential characters, but there were a number of new people introduced, and there was barely enough opportunity to establish them.  So I didn’t waste a lot of space re-establishing the characters from the first book.  I just moved forward with the story.

Everyone still seemed to enjoy it, but it ended up a bit more Empire Strikes Back than I’d hoped.  However good it is, it’s much better appreciated if you read it after the first book.  (Not to mention the fact that reading Threat Multiplication first spoils a bit of Certain Hypothetical.)

I briefly considered rewriting it, but taking the time to re-establish the returning characters thoroughly would also slow the story down.  And I think I got the pacing pretty much spot on as it is.  So I just accepted that it’s got that second-book-in-a-trilogy syndrome.  (The epilogue, while not a cliffhanger, does plant some seeds for the third in the series.)  However, I did add a little introduction and a description of the returning characters to the front of the book – both as a reminder for those who have read Certain Hypothetical and as an aid to those who haven’t.

Writing this book was also a good learning experience that would serve me well as I then turned to writing book 2 of the Watchbearers series.  Based on readers’ reactions so far, it stands on its own better, despite being much more of a sequel than this book.

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