Sunday, February 20, 2011

Idea Garage Sale: Stranded

This post is dedicated to Lupe, Peggy, JoEllen, Kay, Ben, Jeremy at Brake Check on S. Lamar, Jose at the St. Edwards University Information desk, and all the people behind me on the road when Moby wouldn't stop turning; without whom my Austin trek would have been way too exciting.

Because of all these people, my story is not a candidate for a novel; but as I waited in Brake Check for the last adjustments so I could finally drive home I reflected on how a novel that started with a car that won't stop turning could develop. The driver/protagonist would need to either be cut off from the friends and sympathetic, professional strangers I was able to rely on, or opposed to relying on them for some reason. Since the show on the TV in the lobby at the time was America's Most Wanted, the first thing that occurred to me was that the driver had a body in the trunk; but that's an antagonist, not a protagonist.

(Or maybe not. A nimble thriller writer could keep you guessing on this subject, depending on the backstory of the body.)

Let's make the driver a teen. One of my difficulties was that I had no cell phone. (I suspect we're going to break down and get one shortly.) All modern teens have cells, so why would this one be without? I could make it a historical story, but this by itself suggests no plot. What if the teen is a runaway and has ditched her cell because she knew it could be traced?

That opens possibilities. Why isn't she afraid of the car being traced? Maybe she is. Maybe the car is stolen, so instead of proceeding on the assumption that she needs to take it straight to the garage, she proceeds on the assumption that she needs to risk driving it a little bit longer, at least till she can steal one that works better.

What is she running from? Or, more pertinently, who? Is she being actively sought? Does she have enough criminal savvy to rely on stealing a new car, or enough mechanical skill to diagnose and jerryrig a fix for the problem on this one? What are her skills and resources? What's in the car with her? Did the previous owner leave behind anything that would surprise her or affect her choices?

Is anyone with her? Does she, who has no one to rely on, feel responsible for someone else?

Where is she going once she gets mobile again?

I'm too tired to answer all these questions right now. But if I could, I'd have me a plot.

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