Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Launch Party #1

Let's start the party! Remember to comment for a chance to win.

When you're trying to get information across to your readers, dumping it on them doesn't work. One method I like to use is putting another character in the scene. Colleen's new in town, and the "plot people" around her are Graham, the hero--but she doesn't want much to do with him at first. And then there's Doris, her landlady, an elderly woman who seems to drift in and out of La-La-Land.

While Doris and Graham serve their purposes, sometimes it's important to show a little more about the character. Enter Tracy. She's Colleen's age, and the two hit it off. But you can't (or at least I can't) just bring Tracy in when you need her, glossing over the way they meet. There have to be at least some plot points in the scene.

Colleen's new in town. She's met a cop, and isn't happy about that. She's upset, so I send her to the local Y to burn off some of that nervous energy. I'm also going to have to get her a car, since she didn't drive from Oregon to Florida. And I want to show a bit more of her personality--the way she acts when she's not all flustered by Graham's presence.

Colleen grabbed a towel in the locker room and avoided eye contact with everyone else as she strode through the gym and went straight for the free weights. Within minutes, she was lost in the routine, moving from one set of exercises to another, sweat dripping, endorphins flowing. The piped-in music and the underlying smell of sweat disappeared until there was nothing but the resistance of the weights.

The workout served its purpose, getting her emotions on an even keel, and Colleen allowed a break for a cup of coffee in the lounge area.

A man swaggered into the room, poured a cup of coffee, giving her an up and down gaze as he stirred in sugar and creamer. "Hi, Red. You're new. You looked damn good in there."

Colleen gripped her cup and felt the Styrofoam start to collapse. She relaxed her hold and glared at the man. Probably late fifties, his jet-black hair an obvious dye-job. Well-muscled arms and shoulders, but a thickening around his middle. Heavy links of gold around his neck. She could see him holding in his stomach.

"Nobody calls me Red," she said. "Not since Bobby Feltcher in sixth grade, and he walked funny for a week. He never had kids. I'm not sure why." Colleen smirked at the way the man's stomach deflated and his hips jerked.

"Ouch. So they call you Irish, then? All that red hair?"

"I'm Scottish. That's two strikes. Want to go for three?" She stared into his eyes the way she would during an interrogation.

"Maybe another time." The man took his coffee and retreated.

"Wow. You were brilliant." A young blonde woman stepped to the coffee counter. Patches of sweat on her fashionable workout pants and matching camisole top said she didn't come to the Y to socialize. "That's Stu. He comes on to everyone, but I've never seen anyone fend him off so beautifully. You're new, aren't you? I'm Tracy." She gave Colleen a wide grin.


"Welcome. I saw you with the free weights. You're good. I do machines three times a week, but don't venture far into the testosterone side of the gym." Another smile crinkled her eyes and she sat in the chair opposite Colleen.

Colleen shrugged. "It's what I'm used to. And there were other women over there."

"Right. But most of them are working with personal trainers."

"I like doing my own thing."

"Do you live around here?" Tracy laughed. "Listen to me. I'm almost as bad as Stu, giving you the third degree."

Maybe it was leftover endorphins, or maybe Colleen was ready to accept her new life, but the mundane get-acquainted ritual seemed comfortable. She smiled. "I just moved in, about two miles up the road."

"Where do you work?"

"Nowhere yet. Thought I'd get the lay of the land first. I figured I'd start the day with some mind clearing and then dive into the details. Like finding some wheels."

"You need a ride home? I'd be honored to chauffeur the woman who got rid of Stu in under thirty seconds."

OK--more later. First prize drawing will be at 7:30 AM, Mountain time.


Rayna M. Iyer said...

Colleen is the friend I wish I had! She's really awesome.

Jess said...

congrats on the release!!

Mason Canyon said...

Congratulations on the release Terry. Colleen and Graham are great characters and I'd love to see them again.

Thoughts in Progress

Terry Odell said...

Rayna, Jess & Mason - so glad you're here.

Terry Odell said...

First winner -- Jess! Congratulations. Email me for details.

Jemi Fraser said...

Love that scene - great way to show us some personality & interractions! :)

Terry Odell said...

Jemi - glad you liked Tracy. She's going to want her own book, I just know it.

Carol Kilgore said...

Great characters!

Matt Bille said...

The details are good, too. I liked the one about how she could see the man was holding in his stomach. We men always tell ourselves no one will notice that.

Terry Odell said...

Matt - oh, we notice. :-) Little secret -- that character is based (and not so loosely) on a real person who hung at the Y. The Y is real as well--I spent many, many hours there over the years.

Maryann Miller said...

I am loving Colleen. What a great character, and she just jumps off the page... er... the screen.

Andrea I said...

Congratulations on the release. I liked the excerpt.

Terry Odell said...

Andrea - welcome to the party, and glad you're enjoying the excerpts.