The App Concludes

MCMMonday, August 31, 2009

Way back at the end of July, I discovered this thing called Web Series Writing Month, wherein you... er... write a web series for a month. Being simple-minded as I am, I decided I had to give it a try. And thus, The App was born.

What is The App? Well, I knew it was going to be a scary story, because when I drew the cover, there was blood splatter. And I knew I wanted to write one chapter a day, and that each chapter would take place on its day in the story as well, so it would have a very interesting structure. I couldn't write a continuous cliffhangery beast like I usually do. The next time we saw Raj (the main character), a whole day would have passed. Obviously, I could cheat and end one chapter at midnight and start the next one right away, but there are only so many times you can do that. So it was going to be a challenge.

One thing I wanted to do was to write to format. I got the page template I'm using for Fission Chips (where each chapter starts 1/3 of the way down the page) and wrote like this: I only had one-and-two-thirds pages to write each chapter. If I blew onto a separate page, I had to trim back. I could be a few lines short of that second, full page, but if I was going to be more than 1/3 short, I had to re-think things to make it fit. It was an added challenge, but that's the kind of thing I do for kicks.

The story took a lot of twists and turns, and it was pretty intense towards the end. I know from emails and comments that people were confused about where I was going, and the prevailing theories were mostly wrong. So I'm happy to have confused you all.

I will be releasing The App as a mini-book sometime in the new year. It clocks in at 76 pages in its current state. After some editing and revising, I'll try and find a blurb or two, and see how it goes. I don't know how <17,000 word fiction sells. Probably not well :)

And now, since you've all been so patient, here are some fun facts about the story that I had to keep hidden until it was done. They are spoilery, but I've tried to make them not-exactly-spoilery...


  • When I started, I assumed it was going to be an AI killing people. The story was going to follow the evolution of the AI as it started to become menacing
  • That plan fell apart when I wrote part 3, because at that point I became convinced that the killing needed to start early (for pacing reasons). So now I had the first part (which takes place at the end) clearly indicating a rogue AI, but ~30 days to fill trying to convince you all that you were wrong about the AI.
  • I wrote out a detailed plan for the 31 days after part 4, so I wouldn't get caught off guard anymore. That way, when I got to day 17, I could read "17 Det Warner returns, voices suspicions. Raj confesses that he thinks Beth is killing people via Esa. Warner is killed on way to Beth's place." and know exactly what I had to do.
  • As you may recall, on day 17, things don't work out the way I outlined, so obviously I suck at planning.
  • I pushed very hard to make you all believe that it was Beth behind everything. But every time I got to the point where I thought I'd really sold it, I got nervous that it was too easy, so I pulled back on her irrationality. I think it worked out, but it was really tense for a while.
  • The "Debbie being bad" angle was a hard sell, I know. I doubt it really worked, but I figured at least some of you would have been suspecting her after the Beth revelation, so I wanted to give you a brief moment of satisfaction.
  • I knew the real truth behind iSA once I mapped out the month, but I kept hints very subtle. There were subtle hints here and there: in day 27, Raj says "Not brave. Just a little more sane", which is a bit of comedy. Other clues were scattered around, but I was hoping nobody would notice (and from what I've seen, nobody did).
  • I purposely made that error message for day 21, because I wanted to inject day 21 at the end like a Hollywood twist (where you see the flashback and see how the protagonist had everything under control after all). And I only really wanted that twist to make you think you knew how it was going to end. I would never end all the action in the first half of a page of a chapter if I could avoid it. If you ever see me do something like that, expect a twist :)
  • Debbie was originally Chris, but I figured it worked better if iSA was killing out of jealousy instead of just randomly. I had a Debbie-like character that still came in at the middle section (for what were very spontaneous sex scenes), so when I ditched Chris, things started working out a lot better.
  • Raj was borrowed from "Raj and Gore", that one-shot comic I did a while ago about a guy who hacks his iPhone and a human-eating monster robot appears before him. Nobody liked the comic, so I re-purposed. Nyah nyah.


I'll do a post-mortem wrap up of The App after it actually goes to print, but so far things have been very good, donations-wise.

Thank you to everyone that's played along. I'll try and do another one of these one-month-stories soon! It was fun!

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