I was recently struck with a fairly interesting idea that I'm interested in turning into a plot for a novel. I have a sketchy idea of the opening scene and a general direction in which to take the writing, but I'm having trouble with character drives, and I'm trying to be careful not to get stereotypical with this whole adventure-type theme. Our central character is a male in his later teens or possibly early twenties. He leads fairly unremarkable life, most likely lower-middle class. He works a job he hates at a shopping mall, more character details and little quirks to be determined. I've not done much to develop him, at this point. One day, Joe Blow is doing his food court jockey routine. The lunch hour is passed, business is fairly slow, and he is sent out to sweep up whatever litter the people in line might have left. He turns on auto-pilot and sort of meanders through the busy work, caught up in thought or what have you, and something crunches under his foot. J.B. looks down to see he's stepped on a piece of chalk that's broken into a couple of pieces under his weight. It strikes him as unusual (probably I will think of a better reason), so he picks up the two remaining larger pieces out of the mess and pockets them before sweeping the other shards up. As he goes to dump his dustbin in the garbage, there is some ruckus down the food court. Crashes, shouts. Joe Blow turns to look, only to have a woman come hurdling into him, flying out of who knows where. She's dressed strangely (likely something steampunky, yet another feature TBD), older than Joe, and she's shouting at him and trying to reach into his pockets. Joe thinks he's being mugged, or something, and fights back, causing yet more of a commotion. Mall security begins to move in on them, and Girl wonder grabs Joe Blow by the collar of his shirt, tearing off through the mall and dragging him with her. They undoubtedly alarm people left and right, J.B. scarcely keeping up and probably still trying to get loose of her, still making a scene. Girl Wonder finally shoves him into a) a dressing room or b) a janitor's closet or something of the sort, and follows in after him, closing and locking and possibly barricading the door. Joe is freakin' out by this point, and it does not help when Girl Wonder pulls a rather massive old-timey weapon and puts it to his head. She gets handsy again as he quails against the wall, reaches into his pockets and pulls out a piece of chalk. She gets angry about its size, Joe stammers something about stepping on it, but she isn't listening to him for long. Instead, she turns around to draw on the wall beside the door. She draws a large rectangle, and inside of that draws four rows of three circles, with one added on the bottom. She numbers twelve of them, and leave the bottom one blank. By then, Mall security is pounding on the door, demanding to be let inside, warning them that the door will be broken down and severe penalties shall follow if they don't comply, etcetera. Joe, understandably, would like out of the closet so he doesn't catch any blame, and makes for the door, but Girl Wonder touches one of the numbered circles and the closet/dressing room lurches and begins to descend as though it is an elevator. Girl Wonder has drawn a panel of elevator buttons. I'm debating whether this elevator system travels planes of existence or simply layers of a multi-level, man-made world that Joe Blow and the contemporaries on his level of said world don't know anything about. Either way, what I'm sort of looking at is a fantasy type setting with potential for rich steam- and/or cyber-punk themes going on. Travel by 'elevators' would be an ancient secret, passed down for centuries from teacher to disciple. It would also be severely, uh, illegal. Travel by these means would probably be regulated heavily by a central government/bureaucracy/mafia/what have you. The mineral from which the chalk is made is extremely rare and consequently extremely valuable. It would likely need to be either bought on the black market or stolen. I'd really love some feedback on any of this. Suggestions for the central organization and its potential motivations would be loved, as well as thoughts on planar/nonplanar travel. Anything to drive a good plot! Thanks for your time, guys.