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Countdown to Collapse – A timeline for Shimmer

July 14th, 2010
I don’t do research. And I don’t make outlines. These are my conditions when writing. Of course, they’re only conditions I’ve set with myself.  (Punch line: Even then, the negotiations are ugly.) I do, however, make outlines after I’m well into a project. It might be 50 pages in, it might be 200, but at some point I have to start planning how everything I’ve written will come together. Sometimes, it’s as much as anything a need to catalog the many disparate parts that I’ve put on the page. That catalog then becomes an outline. With Shimmer, one part of the catalog was setting the timeline for the impending collapse of Robbie’s fraud, especially as the lie manifests in the shadow network (the series of servers and satellites and networking that is secretly supporting the actual company). I didn’t remember doing this until I found it on my computer, but, as part of sorting out that timeline, I apparently put together a detailed spreadsheet of scenes and dates.

(There’s a PDF of the file here.)

This doesn’t reflect the final timeline — there was no need to update it as the text changed — but the timeline is pretty close to how the book was published. Interesting note on the side:  “Need to accelerate decline [before this point] OR heighten need for extension beyond collapse.” I think I did the latter. Maybe I did both. I’m continually surprised by how people read Shimmer and say it was such a fast read. A page-turner. To me, there were so many details — as reflected in this timeline (and the financial spreadsheet I had to put together) — that my experience of the book was slow, a slog through the minutiae. I guess things like this timeline are part of what made the book quick?
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