The puzzle of how the book ends, that is. It just came to me, nearly out of the blue, while I was banging my head against the wall of The Codebreakers. Yeah, about 230 pages in, it starts to get a little tough. I think it’s not all me, though, since there’s a lot of abstract analysis and not so many walk-thru examples anymore.
So I ordered another book, Cryptanalysis, which is an exercise book that lets you solve puzzles on the page (and has an answer section, so you can figure out where you screwed up). TBH I’m just not following the stuff in Codebreakers without a step by step process breakdown, and this other book looks like it’ll do the trick.
I was just creatively giddy yesterday, for the first time in a long time. I started to make a list of viable reasons that the Hoard would become accessible after all this time, and next thing I knew, I had a conversation between Marc and Jesse and “Satoshi” at the end of the book. And all the pieces fell into place! No spoilers! But it makes sense, which is the part I needed to be sure of.
So, 13k words so far. The writing’s not moving at breakneck pace, but it’s tough – what I’m doing right now has to be written over and over. I have to write everything about Bitcoin, explained lucidly and thoroughly. Then, I have to write it again, as I get my facts straight. Then, I have to go back and edit out as many of those facts as the story can stand to lose.
Because nothing kills a thriller faster than a “Gee, Mr. Peabody!” moment that goes on too long. You know, the point where the action stops so Robert Langdon can hold forth on Da Vinci, or an expert in a Michael Crichton novel educates you about time travel or aerodynamics. It’s got to be done, but it’s got to be done fast and clean and simple. There’s a danger of geeking out over the subject, getting so fascinated that you overload the narrative with extraneous facts. For instance, I could take the reader down a rabbit hole talking about how Bitcoins are “mined,” but it’s not necessary to the plot. This is Bitcoin 101, and those who want to know more can find more easily enough.
It’s a sticky wicket, but it’s a challenge. And it felt really good to have those little hairs on the back of my neck stand up when my ending came to me.
In a way, a novelist is a cryptanalyst. A plot is a puzzle that we solve step by step, finding and discarding clues, turning it this way and that, hitting dead ends, starting over, until finally all is clear. And some puzzles don’t get entirely solved – some come out like unfinished crosswords, good in places but…missing something. You know that feeling you get when you finish a book and it had a lot going for it, but didn’t hit that five star mark. I’m working hard to get this puzzle completely and satisfactorily solved.
So, late December? Great Flying Spaghetti Monster, November’s half over! So yeah, that seems likely.