So I figure I can finally talk about how this big Shortpacked! storyline came about.
Joyce and Walky!’s storylines were not the most organized thing. It was something I sort of crapped out in my off hours, something that I knew had an ending in a wedding, but something that got bigger and bigger and bigger as I went along and added stuff to it without ending it. And the bigger and more bloated it got, the more like I felt it needed some consequences attached. Somebody had to go!
And so I chose Rachel. …which was a much better idea in a magical world in which I was paying close attention to that plot thread, and not in the way it actually happened, which is she sort of gets offed behind the scenes and we find out about it years later and oops. That wasn’t fair to the character and it made me feel kind of gross inside. When Ruth and Dina went bye-bye, their endings were about them as characters. Rachel’s end was just a Big Reveal for the sake of one. It’s about everyone else, or, specifically, it’s about Joe.
I was totally fridging Rachel.
And that really pissed me off. Rachel isn’t one of my favorite characters, but I became pissed on her behalf. And so as I wrote the reveal of her being replaced by an alien guy in a Rachel suit in Joyce and Walky!, I thought I could mitigate that a bit by making sure her end was unknown. Maybe she’s still alive out there, I’d suggest! But that wasn’t enough. I needed to actively and visibly fix this. I couldn’t do it in Joyce and Walky!. That was ending. It was over.
It would have to happen in Shortpacked!.
Which I also felt a little weird about. Shortpacked! shouldn’t be about the stuff Rachel’s return would be about. It really shouldn’t be a sequel to stuff you can only pay for, not read freely. But I decided it was more important to me that she not be fridged, and so I pursued the idea anyway. I tried to make sure it was as relevant to Shortpacked! as possible. And I knew there were some story threads that laid the pipework for that. We’ve met Joe. We’ve (sort of) met Head Alien II. And on the reverse side most of my important SP! characters were at the wedding where this all originally went down. There were established connections.
And so now you have this story that’s really about Leslie wanting to get back together with Robin and we learn about the Drama Tag and we learn about Connie’s mother, plus we get to revisit Amber even though she’s moved on to another store. Doing an alternate universe means I get to explain all these things without having to resort to really boring exposition. I get to show it. And so far I’m pretty pleased with how it’s worked out.
Don’t fridge your characters, folks. Sometimes you can get a pretty good story out of not doing it.
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