Thursday, June 27, 2019

The Book That Wouldn’t Have Been

Behind the Story of Peripheral Encounters (Slowpocalypse #4)

Warning: this post contains spoilers for the first four books of the Slowpocalypse series. Also be warned that this shows the ‘sausage-making’ aspect of writing, which some of you may not want to know about.

I hadn’t originally planned on this for Book 4. As I was finishing Book 3 it became clear, in a general way, what Kat and Tony would be up to soon –
the assignment to assess the situation outside the walls of the FURC and look for survivors to invite back into the compound, as well as Tony’s true mission – but I’d intended to leave most of that story untold and write Political Homicide next. Primarily because with only those two central characters and a limited scope, I didn’t think their adventures would make much of a novel.

Instead I’d considered one of their encounters on the outside as a possible short story, one of several ideas I’d been thinking of for a little extra to release alongside Book 3. But what I ended up writing was the prequel Durable Impressions, in part because readers seemed so interested in Kat’s history. Though that turned out well, and I’m glad I wrote it, afterward I found I wasn’t interested in writing more shorts. (I prefer full-length narratives, both as a reader and a writer.)

However, I also realized that what Kat and Tony were doing in the wake of Book 3 was a more important part of the larger story for the series going forward than I’d first thought and needed to be told. So I decided to tackle it before moving on to what was happening at the Northwest FURC. And until I actually began writing their adventure, I wouldn’t really know how much meat there was to that story.

It soon became obvious that there was more to it than I’d expected, enough for a novel even if it would be a bit on the short side. Then I recalled one of my other ideas for a Slowpocalypse short story, one featuring MacTierney and Grace and which took place inside the FURC while Kat and Tony were on the outside. I’d wanted to spend some time with those two supporting characters and briefly considered writing that short and including it as a bonus. But then I realized how well that bit would integrate into the main storyline, and ‘The Intermission’ was born.

Not only did I end up with a novel to be proud of and an important link in the larger arc, but I’d written a book with a different and uniquely pleasing structure. A most fortunate ‘accident’.

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