Brainstorming with the hive mind

Yesterday I was floundering a bit in my writing. I still really had no firm vision of act 2 and all I did know—that Batarel was trying to kill Daniel and Jack was trying to catch Daniel and Daniel was trying to be neither killed nor caught—didn’t seem like it was much to go on. The more I thought about it, the more it sounded like a Benny Hill skit. And that wasn’t what I wanted.

It occurred to me that part of the problem was that I didn’t know how Daniel was actually going to kill Batarel. In the original book, the immortals could be killed by reducing them to tiny pieces and then burning the pieces. A run of the mill RPG could do this in one efficient step. But this time around, post-9/11, with grenade launchers so commonly available around the world, that seemed too easy. But because I was too close to the source material, I couldn’t think of another way to do it. So I asked Twitter.

How would you kill something that had nanites in its blood that repair damage (injuries, aging) almost as fast as they happen? #research

@jeffkirvin Petrify instead of kill… figure out what the nanites use for fuel and disrupt it in a definitive, fast way… umm *runs out*

@jeffkirvin suffocation #research

@jeffkirvin Simple. Watch Stargate and see how they finally did it.

@jeffkirvin Computer virus vs. nanites… opposing nanites… remove all blood (if they’re only in the blood)

@jeffkirvin Irradiate the nanites? Large magnetic force?

@jeffkirvin Acid? Emp? Impact? Maybe disable the nanites before you can do anything else? Depends on how drastic an injury they can fix.

@jeffkirvin Trying to figure out how to kill your immortals? I guess the whole "There can be only one" thing doesn’t work here, huh? 🙂

@jeffkirvin Seal them in a vacuum and deny them access to raw materials.

@jeffkirvin the the new Outer Limits addressed this once…shock therapy to fry the little bastards…

@jeffkirvin How about a virus – worked against the original Visitors in V and the Borg. Sounds like you’ve made them too powerful for less.

@jeffkirvin A wooden steak in its heart or a silver bullet.

Not all of these suggestions were usable, but they got me thinking. Some of them, like the EMP idea, were brilliant, but won’t work in Revelation because our heroes don’t know why the immortals are immortal yet. They won’t learn about the nanites until they get to examine some demon blood in Crusade, the next book in the series. But there were enough valid tactics and false positives to give me some ideas on how Daniel could have several try/fail cycles in Act 2.

Thomas Edison once said, "I have not failed 700 times. I have not failed once. I have succeeded in proving that those 700 ways will not work. When I have eliminated the ways that will not work, I will find the way that will work." Daniel and company will be doing the same in Act 2. They’ll be trying to find a successful way to kill a demon. And they’ll be trying not to get killed themselves in the process. Add to that my realization that they no longer have any reason why they have to stay in DC, and get an Act 2 that looks like this.

  • Daniel and Co. go on the run
  • Jack gets a lead that Daniel is still in the metro area, wonders why
  • Daniel and co find Batarel’s house emptied and for sale, seller is some anonymous holding company
  • Batarel follows the RV from his house
  • Jack investigates
  • Batarel attacks, gets beheaded, puts head back on, heroes escape to Baltimore
  • Jack investigates
  • Heroes try to drown Batarel
  • Jack investigates
  • Electrocution in Philadelphia
  • Jack investigates
  • Radiation in New York
  • Jack sees evidence that Batarel isn’t human
  • Blow up, but not completely, in Newark
  • Jack finds Daniel just as Daniel attacks Batarel in a Bethlehem Pennsylvania steel mill
  • Dissolve/Melt/Burn/Vaporize
  • Daniel, Jeff and Jack kill Batarel while Susan films it

There’s still a lot of stuff missing from this. I know that Susan needs to play a bigger part, and I’m thinking she’ll be blogging about the entire experience as well as uploading videos to YouTube as soon as I can figure out how she can do that without tipping off the FBI to their whereabouts (I think this is why they hop from one major metro area to another; it would be too easy to track her signal in a rural environment). I’m also thinking Jack needs to nearly catch Daniel at some point, shades of that scene in “The Fugitive” with Harrison Ford and Tommy Lee Jones in the drainage pipe.

I also like a lot of the little touches, like trying to electrocute Batarel in the home town of Ben Franklin, and ending it and meeting the Archangel Uriel in a city called Bethlehem (not far from where I went to high school, as it turns out). Little things like that, which weren’t initially intended, tell me that the story is taking on a life of its own, that it’s an organic thing unto itself. A good outline doesn’t preclude organic writing, it just provides a skeleton on which to base it.

One thought on “Brainstorming with the hive mind”

  1. […] For instance, published author Jeff Kirvin wasn’t sure of the way to kill a character in his current work, so he put the question out on Twitter. (HT Steve Rubel). And out of the suggestions he received he found some that might work, and enough to get him thinking more (Read more interesting details on brainstorming with the hive mind). […]

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