Sunday, May 10, 2015

Different Pieces of One Puzzle

Behind the Story of Compromised Inside (Part 2)

Warning:  this post contains spoilers for the first 3 Slowpocalypse stories, and I recommend reading those novels 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.

So, as I’d been writing book 2 I’d also started to discover ideas for book 3, and right off the bat I had two major challenges for the characters to face.  One was the threat of a virus sweeping the community, which would cause trouble for Security while bringing in Dr. Harker and the FURC clinic for a medical angle, and the other was the increasingly violent unrest as everyone struggled to deal with dwindling supplies and a lack of real democracy.  That would give Security a lot of problems and also open the door to a closer look at FURC politics, as well as give me the chance to make Caroline a major player.  And I’d found her character a lot of fun to write.

As I delved deeper into the premise of the virus storyline, it brought up two different ideas I’d dealt with in the past.  One related to how things had turned out in the future the Watchbearers had come from, and I realized that as a side effect, the virus would trigger the first of a series of genetic upgrades for the human race.  The other was one I’d used as an example for my SPEC series of posts about developing story ideas, based on research about behavior-controlling brain parasites.  In those articles, I had run through a variety of potential stories you could create from that one topic.  And I decided there was too much potential to let it go to waste, so I found a way to integrate the concept into the virus story, to give that part of the plot a nice twist.  The new virus infecting the community would be an engineered contagion, designed to defeat a parasitic infection already present and threatening to destroy the FURC.  An outbreak very few people even knew about.

And that made more sense out of the previous books in retrospect.  Because the FURC community had been one so serene that even with around five thousand residents, Security had only required three officers (and Tony) to keep that peace, prior to Certain Hypothetical.  Of course, the initial events of the first book created a lot of stress and tension in the community, but people’s reactions were extreme.  Now I knew why.  The ‘Gravity Bug’ had already contaminated some citizens and begun exacerbating their bad behavior.  And the increasing effects of that infection would amplify the natural anger of residents in response to the events of Compromised Inside and tie together all the different strands of the story, from the medical investigation to the election.

And when I realized how that election would have to end and imagined what the consequences could be, I knew how to handle Kat and Tony’s relationship issues.  Indeed, one of the big benefits to this book being so focused on the FURC community itself would be plenty of opportunity to develop the main characters more.
Next:  Part 3 – Personal Relationships

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