Figured I might as well do this again. Maybe I’m taking a page from Scott Delahunt at The Chaos Beast, who reports on each of his serial entries. I’m impressed he manages the time.
Plot spoilers ahead for “Numbers Game“. Where were we in the last “Behind the Scenes”? Ah yes, Part 6, Alison had just hacked Mason’s TARDIS and proclaimed herself the leader of the group. Also, this wasn’t her Earth.
The nature of the world they were on was something I first hinted at back in Episode 3, with the rough trip. Naturally (and perhaps rightly) that voting decision returned to the Roman Numeral plot, rather than pursuing this. But I hadn’t forgotten my big picture, and to end Week 6, wondered if explanations might be in order yet. Nope! All about the villain, and “The Hub” was completely rejected. Onwards then.
WEEKS 7 & 8
The week that followed (Canadian) Thanksgiving Monday was pretty busy, but as usual I had to think before starting to write anyway. It had occurred to me that the villains were getting short-changed, but I felt like a cut scene was too much of a departure from the norm, hence Alison’s undercover mission. Originally she was going to pose as a Time Lord, but posing as Lissa somehow made more sense when I reached the end. (Ergo my tweet, “You can’t have seen this twist coming because I didn’t see it coming.”) This necessitated figuring out what Lissa Jous would look like, something I’d only been toying with. I actually wanted to draw Lissa that week… but I was entering a period of serious depression and futility.
Yeah, these two weeks here? It eventually got so bad I would take a day off work for a medical appointment. And before you jump to the conclusion of “THAT’S why Alison was suicidal!”, no. I wrote about Para cutting herself in Series 5 of “Taylor’s Polynomials” while relatively upbeat. (I even put up a Blog Post at the time, because some people were concerned. I guess I should be happy, it means they read something.) While I grant that depression may be why the characters received those traits in the first place, my mood is (as far as I can tell) not directly linked to that of my fiction. Real life is the problem. Anyway.
There was a 3 way tie on week 7 in terms of Phillip’s decision. (What is it about character votes and ties?) I sent out a generic Twitter plea Monday night, and a fourth vote came to my rescue. Part 8 was rather more scrambled, as the romance subplot appeared. I ended up writing the ending, not liking it, rewriting, then preferring my earlier version, and not being able to recover it. Seriously, who’s bright idea was it to make “autosave” now literally OVERWRITE your txt file, rather than keeping a ~backup somewhere else?? I tried to recover from my last save point and COULD NOT. Damn you, autosave. Also featured in real life this week? A major shooting downtown, and parent-teacher interviews. I was still having mental issues. Ultimately I finished part 8 right before I went to bed Saturday night (Sunday morning).
WEEKS 9 & 10
The poll at the end of Week 8 wasn’t going to immediately influence the start of Week 9; that was on purpose. I knew I was going to have an Alison-Para talk before plot intervened, and thought it would help me to finish the part by Friday, because I was going to my sister’s wedding the next weekend. Now, did this mean I actually started the writing earlier? No, but it was a nice thought. And at least I was starting to come out of my lowest levels of depression. The voting itself was a 2-2 tie, I shouted on Facebook/Twitter AGAIN, and it was broken. Meaning five votes, itself a tie for my all time high, not seen since my personal pleas to people back in Episode 3. So wow.
I actually did final edits of Week 9 online, in the airport, on Halloween, waiting to board my flight. (Normally I copy and paste a complete version into the online document.) It would then be more than a week before I came back to the story! That might sound weird for a weekly serial, but there you go – report cards were due the following Friday. I didn’t do any writing from Friday, Oct 31st until the following Saturday, Nov 8th. As a result, I left the voting open for twice as long (from Sunday through Thursday, rather than Tuesday), tossing up a tweet once per day or so. Only 3 votes, DOWN from Week 9. So I guess time to vote isn’t a factor. (Or my readers are teachers, who were similarly too busy? Or I’m dreaming.)
Come Saturday, I had to figure out what The Denominator’s backup plan was. Yeah – I’d had a better sense of how Alison’s blackmail would go, and Mason’s plan, but aside from “villains usually have a backup plan”, I didn’t have a set idea for the actual thing that got voted in. I started by scanning over EVERY part I’d written so far, and put in some extra discussion to start the story, Mason throwing in the idea of a “pocket universe”, to harken back to that big picture again. (Incidentally, the reason Mason’s device was called a ‘Transformer’ is because Phil’s device was an ‘Alternator’. Think electronics.) Ultimately, my thought became: If Phil didn’t have a backup plan per se, maybe Lissa did?
Lissa Jous was always intended to be an actual character (hence why seeing her was a legitimate possibility at the end of part four), but she got shuttled into dreams as a way of doing the undercover work (I do not know if Para is correct about the type of dreams). As I now had a device that warped reality, it seemed like I had a way to bring Lissa back. I even went the extra step towards drawing her this time. (I coloured the scanned image during “Doctor Who” Saturday evening.) No external web links in this episode; often if they don’t occur to me while writing, I’ll do cursory research, but not this time. With the UNDO button now having been pushed, the plot was wrapping up, a return to the Hub was inevitable – and so the new vote was to figure out who would be around for the finale.
WEEKS 11 & 12
I started part 11 where part 10 left off, but to my annoyance, realized that I needed a better sense of what Para and Mason had been doing to end part 10. And once I knew, it seemed like something the audience would want to see. Thus how “Tour de Force” ended up unfolding. Perhaps a better planned story would have put the start of 11 at the end of 10, and vice versa. Oh well. Week 11 got me back to Alice at the Hub, and the dramatic revelation (well, dramatic to me) of her identity, along with the many-worlds theory I’d been vaguely hinting at since the start.
Usually when writing, the idea of what choices to offer up comes to me partway through (or earlier), and so I aim to end the part right around there (and right around 2,000 words). This is not something I find terribly difficult. Here though, I actually finished the part (by Friday evening) and was stuck on what the final choices should be. I mulled it over through Saturday and finally decided to only go with 2 options. Maybe a binary decision is better than 3 options? I had no idea. Only three votes, not atypical, so still no idea. (It was also around here I learned the creator of “Choose Your Own Adventure” books had died. Couldn’t work that in.)
Closed off that last vote on Tuesday after school, and immediately started writing Part 12, because on the weekend I’d be away at another wedding (in Winnipeg). A couple hours work on that day, also Wednesday, and the last part was finished. I’d originally planned to take it a bit further in the aftermath (activating the wormhole), but Alison wanted to do some earlier character venting to eat up the word count, and I allowed it. The last part was in the buffer on Thursday night. At present, it’s been viewed a total of 7 times.
My previous behind the scenes post showed stats from the start, up to an unusual spike on Oct 5th (over 25 views when 15 is more typical); I later discovered that not all those hits were for the latest post, nor were they unique hits, so maybe one person was doing an archive dive. Below are the stats heading into the weekend following (Week 7, Canadian Thanksgiving), which were… well, yeah, over 10 hits in a day is now atypical. That said, “Causality” has become my all-time 4th ranked part (below parts 1, 2 and 3), so I don’t know. (My lowest viewed is Part 12, the most recent one.)
The mid-week spikes after Nov 4th are a bit odd. Not much of interest (or out of the ordinary) from beyond the end of that graph to the present. So let’s shift this to the weekly summaries (below), because that way you can see how interest per part has waned since the start. (The week of Sep 1 featured no serial entries, just the start of the blog and initial votes.) Then again, I suppose I don’t need multiple ways of finding out that only five people are engaged by my writing…
I need to figure out how to make this more interesting. Which I struggled with for three years in my personified math serial without great success, so this may not last that long. I don’t know if my latest plan of shifting to a more fantasy setting will help in any manner. But at this point you’re probably getting tired of me saying “I don’t know”, so I’ll shut up.
Which brings us back to, do you have any questions for me? Either about this commentary, or about my first completed serial, written over 12 weeks, without a buffer? I’ll also accept commentary about improvements, do you have any of those?
The voting is up for the next part, has been since Friday morning, and will be through until the usual Tuesday cut off. I know it’s American Thanksgiving; I don’t know (again, sorry) if that’s a good or a bad thing. (People may have more free time, or less, depending?) Two votes came in Friday, another two Saturday, overall still only 13 views on the post.
You learn by doing. Clearly I don’t know what I’m doing.