Saturday, March 21, 2015

Becoming Part of the Bigger Picture

Behind the Story of Centenary Separation (Part 6)

Warning:  this post contains spoilers for the first two Watchbearers books, and I recommend reading those before this.  Also be warned that this shows the ‘sausage-making’ aspect of writing, which some of you may not want to know about.

After Anya, Verity and Turner, Matt and Page came Nye, whose story I imagined would be so separate it would need to be told on its own.  All I knew to start was that she would be without supervision, all on her own in New York City.  That would have to be hilarious.

Nye was another minor character who hadn’t had much chance to show her stuff in Millennium Crash, but I knew a lot about her that hadn’t yet been revealed and found her fascinating.  So I was especially enthusiastic to discover more about what made her tick.

I began by taking a look through her eyes (and her glasses) at what she was doing and the way she went about it.  But it was clear from the beginning that her research would also get her into trouble, and it wasn’t hard to see how.  Since it was 2002 and we were being particularly aggressive in pursuing potential terrorists, Nye’s activities would look highly suspicious.

Her interrogation by the FBI would be one of the most fun scenes I’d written, and it would also bring back another minor character from Millennium Crash – Hollingsworth, the lawyer retained by the trust whose reputation was enough to even scare hospital administrators.  He wouldn’t appear yet, but his name would be enough to get Nye out of a jam.

And her continued interactions with the denizens of New York City would give her an excuse to broaden her study of the ancient metropolis from just its buildings to include its inhabitants as well.  Nye finds people fascinating but researching them messy (from a scientific point of view.)  Having the opportunity to assist the FBI would give her a way to focus her study of society in a manageable manner and help her feel useful.

That’s a theme to Nye’s story in this book.  By being left to her own devices, she’s nudged into a heightened sense of responsibility, prompted to make a positive difference as well as advance her studies – at first by volunteering at the soup kitchen and then by assisting the FBI.  But that ever increasing scope of activity also means she needs more time, not just the summers Anya wants them to spend doing their research.

In the end, Nye comes to a place where she needs to stand up to her leader in order to stand on her own two feet.  And that happens to coincide with Anya being brought to her lowest point by the rash path she had chosen.  That tied the two women’s stories closely together.

Nye’s story would also wind up intricately connected with Verity’s in a particularly timey-wimey way.  At the end of Centenary Separation, Nye, now a consultant for the FBI, is about to embark on an investigation of Senator Souseman that we’d already seen the results of in the past.  And so she became a central character, an inseparable part of the book.  But what about the others?
Next:  Part 7 – Coming Together and Pulling Apart

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