Monday, September 24, 2012

LC Cooper Trivia - What Makes Me Tick, Part 2

·        I like the attitude of the folks at "Most books could be a lot shorter, without sacrificing any of the good stuff." And although I haven't yet heard back from SlimBooks regarding their publishing process (a topic for another day), I do share their perspective. Please burn me in effigy if I ever publish an epic novel; doing so means I ran out of steam and the book is full of fluff.
·        Have you yet noticed that my characters are described mostly through their thoughts, dialogue, actions, and behaviours? I don't like to blather on with physical descriptions and settings unless doing so is pertinent to the story's flow. After all, who cares that Goldilocks wore a blue taffeta dress made in the 1640s by the cobbler's wife's aunt's second cousin, and that the taffeta was actually chiffon and not really blue, but faded from indigo? Oh my, *yawn*. The fact that Goldie fell asleep in a bear's bed tells me she had been reading a novel crammed full of fluff like that and it put her out faster than a tranquilizer dart.

Why include extraneous information that distracts the reader from a story's direction and flow? Nay, I say, which is why my kids' bedtime stories contain only 3 sentences: The first begins with "Once upon a time," and the last contains "… the end. Now go to sleep." Functional story telling that meets the whiner's demand also satisfies my need to put the little buggers to bed so I have enough time to plop down in front of my computer and write.
·        I also don't like the covers to contain pictures of the characters. I think readers relate better to a story's characters if s/he (the reader) creates the images from the clues I provide. In this manner, the reader is an owner, a stakeholder, in the story instead of a bystander who's forced into accepting my vision.
·        I always write from a plot outline and a list of characters – I have to. This is because my memory is too short to retain focus. Ellen Degeneres rambling characterization doesn't hold a candle to my myopic wanderings. Don't think for a minute that I use an outline because I'm so gosh-darned structured and professional. Um, sure, I'd prefer you to believe that, but doing so is delusional.
·        Factory books (e.g. Clive Cussler's non-Dirk Pitt novels) make me cringe. What kind of character names are Sky and Kippy, anyway? They certainly don't belong in the action/adventure genre alongside great names such as Dirk and Rudy, for Pete's sake. Isn't it painfully obvious when a favorite author punts a book, after writing a prologue and a couple of chapters, and leaves the rest to a ghost or "partner"?

Thanks to reader demand, it doesn't appear that my novels will ever suffer the fate of being factory produced. If, by some miracle, I ever become that popular, I always have in my back pocket, however,
Kathie Lee Gifford's process for cranking product cheaply out of a factory.
·        My novels and short stories are written in different genres and the point-of-view suits the feel of the story. I've enjoyed dabbling in different writing styles. For instance:
o   Legacy: Written from a third-person omniscient POV, is a guy's adventure story. It was purposely designed to tell two stories that, being 50-years apart, still need to unfold in parallel to come together near the end. I just had to write it this way because the approach is traditionally frowned upon.
o   The Voices of Cellar's Bridge: The recent finding that, during criminal investigations, eye-witness accounts are most often misperceptions of the facts, validated my approach to this story. In The Voices …, two women have distinctly different experiences involving the same events. Which perception is correct? Well, both.

Also written with a third-person omniscient POV, the
dipolar stories within The Voices … were created for different genres. Katherine's is a coming-of-age, young-adult-ish story that is sprinkled lightly with pseudo-Greek tragedy. Hattie's tale is a fantasy adventure wrapped around a love story. Somehow, the two very different versions and perspectives can exist at the same time.
·        Simmering Consequences: Yikes! This one scared the crap out of me. I hope to never meet anyone like my protagonist. Told in the first-person, peeling back her layers reveals a most insidious and pathological core. This story was intended to be a suspense thriller with a love-story undercurrent. At the very end of this post, you'll find my plot outline for the original version of Simmering Consequences.
·        Christmess: Began the day after completing the last edits to Simmering Consequences. After that frightful novel, I had to write something cheery and uplifting , and I was challenged to do so without including cursing or violence. Written with a third-person omniscient POV, it's a romantic comedy with an adventurous twist.
·        Man Cave: This first-person narrative is a coming-of-age for a man approaching his 50s. It's a horror thriller with loads of action and survival guy-stuff. Being a woman, writing this type of story from a sarcastic male's perspective required a lot of research and patience.
·        My short stories are equally diverse:
o    "Barefoot Homecoming":  first-person, female POV, spiritual
o   "There Was a Knock at the Door": first-person, male POV, narrative essay
o   "One Lousy Wish": third-person, female POV, romantic drama written only with dialog. Written as a challenge that readers get bored reading long short stories. My answer, which worked perfectly, was to write the story using only dialog. This way, the reader is listening in on a conversation and not "reading."
o   "Dan's Accidental Convertible": third-person, who-done-it sleeper, also written only using dialog.
o   "Halloween's Perfect Storm": first-person, male POV, holiday comedy
o   "Of Yellow Snow and Christmas Balls": first-person, female POV, holiday comedy
It's been fun experimenting with writing across genres and POVs, but this shotgun approach amounts to nothing more than a self-indulgent ego stroke; my anarch-like prowess doesn't translate into income. As such, look for a long-running series of the John and Jennifer romance/adventure stories, including at least 2 prequels that occur before they meet in Christmess along with several themed romantic adventures.
Woven among titles within the Johniffer series will be some romance dramas and several action/adventure tales (which shall never leave my blood, thanks to growing up watching Star Trek, Star Wars, Space 1999, James Bond, and Indiana Jones movies).
Here's how I wrote the plot outline for Simmering Consequences (originally titled Making it Right and then later Miss Fix-It). When you read Simmering Consequences, you'll see different names and a very different story than what I originally envisioned below.
"Andrea and Michael, high school sweethearts, were destined to be together. Chet Baxter, Michael's boss, was a prominent and wealthy philanthropist. In a series of cruel twists, Andrea and Chet got married. Michael, a rising star in Chet's organization, could not take the shame and left the company and Andrea, moving to another state. After many years, Chet cheats on Andrea in the same manner she trashed Michael.

Michael's wife and kids get along great. He created a name for himself in some trustworthy business, and is running for a US Senate seat. During his campaign, he contracts a kidney disease. Without a transplant, he will die.

Andrea learns of Michael's ambitions and kidney problem through a distant mutual friend, and gets her kidney tested. Found to be a match for Michael, she anonymously donates a kidney to him. Before & after his surgery, Michael tries, unsuccessfully, to learn who it was who donated the kidney.

Andrea gets her hopes up when she learns Michael is searching for her, the anonymous donor, and starts warming up to the idea that she & Michael might spark a romance again. Her dream is bittersweet for, as she drives up to his house, from a distance, she sees Michael and his wife laughing and smiling while watching their kids shoot hoops. With all the love before her, Andrea drops the gift she brought along out the car window and drives off in sad, melancholy tears. She gave up the kidney to right the wrong she did to Michael many years before. She realized, in the end, she had no business believing she should wreck his marriage so she could come back into Michael's life."

And all of this is what makes me tick. Thank you very much for taking the time to read this post. I hope it was enjoyable and enlightening.

Take care,

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LC Cooper