Monday, December 13, 2010
There are many hard things about creating a story. The characters. The world they live in. But, I think one of the hardest for me is naming the hero and heroine. When I write a draft, I usually just slap names to the characters.
But, I find not using a permanent name really hurts the story. How can I imagine what the hero is going to say next when I've tagged him as Abe Vigoda? (Those of you who grew up in the era of Barney Miller and Fish will know what I'm talking about.)
Instead of the sweet talking 28-year-old he's supposed to be, my character becomes a grumbling 75-year-old.
So, I have to name my characters in advance. The problem here is I really like to think about the names. To me, it's like naming your own child. It can be a long process.
Any thoughts on how to shorten it and still be happy w/ the name?
Thursday, December 9, 2010
So, as part of my campaign to not coddle my writing, I said I'd put more of my work out there. Here's the first chapter of Stealing Joe Flanigan's Underwear, which will no longer be a part of the book. And, yes, it was very hard for me to give up this chapter. But, it's backstory, not in the present.
And, yes, this story is almost a parody. I grew up watching Mel Brooks movies. Enjoy. :-)
No more protecting skirts.
Picking himself up out of the dirt for the third time in less than five minutes, Brett McKinley repeated his vow: no more protecting skirts. Hell, the next time he saw a skirt after he left this continent, he’d make an immediate about-face and high-tail it out of the room.
After he finished this mission, he’d take his skills somewhere where they’d be more appreciated. Like maybe a life guard on Redondo Beach. Or maybe a bartender in Key West. He wasn’t Tom Cruise but he could mix up a mean drink.
He scanned the Australian landscape for the completely insane woman who didn’t understand limits – his boss, Dorie Albright. He found her, hanging off the side of a cliff, her hands playing a game of Russian roulette, seeking more stable ground with each grasp.
She wasn’t going to find it. This was a record dry year for southwestern Australia and the ground was brittle. He dashed toward her, hoping to catch her before she fell off, providing food for the sharks in the ocean beneath her.
Not exactly what he expected for his first trip to Australia. Then again, none of this had been what he expected. This job, his grandfather’s last wish for him before he died. His grandfather had made it sound like an honorable job, more honorable than any of the duty he’d done with the Army and the Airborne Rangers. Chasing after crazy women. Psycho women stealing chest hair. That’s what it was.
He’d told Dorie this whole plan was a bad deal. Like any breathing male, he was certain Hugh Jackman valued his chest hair. But, she wouldn’t listen. “I have to do it for the company. For our family,” she’d said.
He skidded to his knees as he reached the edge of the cliff.
“Brett. Save it.” Dorie’s voice sounded ragged as if she had trouble catching her breath. She couldn’t hold on for much longer.
Brett laid prone as close to the edge as he could get and extended his left hand out to her. “Dorie, grab my hand.”
“No.” Still ragged with extended wheezing between sentences. “Save the hair.”
The hair? She meant the acquisition they staked out for more than 36 hours. Her sitting in a too-tight polka dot bikini and he fending off her passes. He used the excuse to check around the beach for “checkpoints” to leave whenever she got too aggressive. Dorie was cute with her coal black shoulder-length hair and pear-shaped slightly overweight torso, but her ‘you’re my property’ was a huge turn-off for him.
The wind pushed a gust between them and Dorie grabbed his hand. A scream escaped and deafened his ears.
“It’s okay. I’ve got you. Give me your other hand.” Brett tightened his grip on her hand and reached out for her other. He tightened every muscle possible to transfer his strength to his arms. “Come on. We’re almost there.”
“No,” her scream more desperate than plaintive. “You have to save it. You have to save the hair!”
Okay, Dorie was undoubtedly psychotic from the hang on the cliff. Or the escape from the Bondi police. He noticed her abnormal gaze had turned away from him, her focus more intent. “You have to save the hair. It’s more important.”
With his muscles stretched to the max, he could only turn his head a little. But, it was all he needed to see what had caught Dorie’s attention. A piece of fly paper no bigger than a small envelope lay part against a large rock, the rest flapping in the wind. When it got away from the rock, the paper’s trajectory looked like the same as Dorie’s – into the South Pacific Ocean.
The fly paper. What she’d used to steal this guy’s chest hair. Oh, hell. Was she kidding? Nothing, even her life was worth this.
She had a crazed look in her eyes. The same gaze he’d seen in many soldiers after they’d seen one too many violent deaths. Dorie had yet to see a death he knew about. Or so he thought. “You have to. I won’t let it get away.”
Brett jerked the arm holding Dorie. “Wake up, woman! It’s not worth it.”
Her psychotic gaze diminished and her eyes turned dark black. He could feel the heat increasing in her arms and she tugged right back. “It will be worth millions. Go get the hair!”
He tried to reason. “Okay, but only after I get you off this cliff. Now, GIVE ME YOUR OTHER HAND.”
She moved and the tension in his lower back eased a centimeter. He waited for her to swing her hand up to him. Her head moved and a searing pain flashed through his forearm. She bit him. His lower back reverted to an even higher level of tension forcing him to push out the pain from his body and focus only on holding on to Dorie. She’d bit him and he almost lost his grip. “Are you nuts, Dorie?”
Another blast of heated wind and Brett’s arm started to feel numb. He could feel his trapezoids burning. If he didn’t get her up soon, he’d be joining her over the side of the cliff. “For pity’s sake, Dorie, just – “
A new, sharper pain jolted through his hand – she’d bitten him again – and he let go out of self-preservation. As he clutched his hand to his chest, he watched Dorie – the skirt he failed to protect – fall to the ocean. Her last words echoed toward him: “Save the hair . . . “
He rolled over and planted his face in the ground, inhaling specks of sand and dirt. He repeated his vow: No more protecting skirts.
While, yes, there are problems w/ this chapter, the main issue is Dorie. I love Dorie and this is the second time I've started SJFU with a chapter including her. Unfortunately, this isn't Dorie's story. And while I like totally wacko Dorie, I need to focus on the h/h: Josie and Brett.