So that’s a picture of a fan palm. At least I think it’s a fan palm. I took that picture last fall on a trip in the Caribbean because I love palms of all sorts. But this palm inspired a biological plot twist in my April Camp NaNoWriMo novel. For those confused by the acronym, NaNoWriMo refers to National Novel Writing Month which is November. But for those of us insane enough to want a novel in a month more than once a year, there are mini-celebrations in April and July. I wrote a pretty decent novel last November that just needs some polishing so I decided to take the plunge again this month.
Because I’ve been doing so much ‘business’ over the last few months (editing, promoting, blogging, etc.), I was starved for something purely creative. As the germs of my work in progress started to grow in my head and I began to make notes in a composition book which is what I do for every novel I’ve written. I outline the story, make character studies, and diagram scenes in there. Sometimes I’ll even write dialogue longhand to get a feel for the characters. My last contemporary/paranormal buzzed to a halt because both of my main characters were just too, well, repressed, so I decided to indulge myself with a sci-fi effort.
When I write sci-fi, I am able to let go of so much that realism that I think is important when you write contemporary. With sci-fi I can make up names and places and plants and devices to my heart’s content. Plus I don’t have to abide by current societal norms. Just an example of how wild my imagination can get; I am creating a world filled with symbiotic trees that have all sorts of epiphytes living on them. Intrepid scientists have recently discovered that one of these epiphytes produces a compound that does something magical to human blood chemistry (one guess what that is) and now the race is on for people looking to get rich quick. It’s sort of like the California gold rush except on a soggy planet very far away.
And this fan palm was the inspiration for the organism that hosts the epiphyte in question. The waving of the fronds is an important part of the life cycle of the epiphyte. The sad thing is that I have written pages of notes about the biology of these creatures and I know that hardly any of it will appear in the book. But it’s my world and it’s safe in my imagination.