Saturday, February 16, 2013

Palaver's Hands - a novel in process

I want to tell y'all about how the story Palaver's Hands got started.

I heard the word "palaver" on the radio. I don't even remember where.  But it immediately occurred to me that it would make a great name for a western town, maybe somewhere out in Wyoming or Montana. But was that it for ideas? Not hardly. I'd also been toying with the idea of writing a story about corporate espionage, not a cyber story, but about good old fashioned breaking and entering. The two elements sort of fit together in a rather far-fetched way.

In the spirit of NaNoWriMo, I sat down at the computer one day and started writing with no plan in mind. Knowing that I have to grab my readers at the very start of a piece, I began with a break-in artist being discovered in the middle of a penetration. And of course, it couldn't be merely a discovery and bust. No way. It had to have a major twist or two in it. At the end of that first day's writing session, I only had a few hundred words, but I knew that my perp was a young woman named Danielle Palaver, that the job had been a test engineered by a potential employer, and it had been a set-up from the start. I discovered all that in the process of writing.

Now, you're asking how that works, right? How does a writer with no plan and only two vague ideas come away from the computer with the opening nugget of a story that has a cool lead character and great potential for depth and intrigue. Well . . . I don't really know. What I do know is that my mind tends to synthesize ideas, to make new combinations out of old stuff lying around in its dusty recesses. That's what happened here.

I then decided that my character, Danielle (Dani) Palaver, was simply too young and innocent to figure out exactly what had happened on that job. She needed a more experienced criminal mentor. Thus, Vadim Flikowitz, a retired Ukrainian criminal living a quiet life in the middle of nowhere had to be invented, they had to be friends, and he could then help her sort out what had really happened.

The story started to build from that point, although there was some jumping around time-wise, and I was pretty sure that my critique group,, would pounce on me for the lack of linearity. They did. It was only after they had received the second installment that the light began to dawn on them and the story took a more linear path, starting with how Dani was recruited by a questionable outfit that did penetrations for various private clients, businesses, and governments.

I'll report on further developments as they occur, or rather, as they occur to me in the writing. I'm not sure where things are headed, but I do know that they're headed downhill at an ever increasing pace. Stick around.

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