Good Afternoon. My name is Gigi and I am a parti poodle. I am the owner of the novelist who writes this post. Today you are in for a treat. My novelist is going to begin doing an anatomy of the first chapter in her book Chicane. I am patiently waiting for her to finish so we can go outside and romp about in the sunshine. My novelist is rather unhappy with me because last night I got into a scrap with the Maltese…but because I am a good owner all is forgiven and we are looking forward to a pleasant afternoon. Also, because the Corona virus has all of us staying at home and watching movies, she is going to do a new feature called Stream of the Week at the end of this post.
Chicane was not my first novel. The book series I am getting ready for publication was my novel. But Chicane was my shortest novel and so I chose to publish it first. When I did publish it, I saw that Amazon put the entire first chapter up for the “look inside” feature. I decided this wasn’t a bad thing necessarily…except for the explicit adult content. Although I like to keep my blog to a G or PG rating, my books, alas are R to NC-17. That aside, it makes it possible for me to do an anatomy of a chapter for the next few blog entries which everyone can view provided they’re 17 or older.
For me the first couple sentences of a novel are crucial, so I had to think about what I wanted to convey right off. The first lines of Chicane are, “He’d decided to sell the cabin. It was final.” Now why did I choose those words? Why didn’t I say something more like “After putting his cabin up for sale, he and his buddies headed for Breckenridge.” It’s because saying it that way doesn’t tell you anything. Chicane is a story about the pursuit of redemption. But it’s also a story about death.
The word “decide” means to kill off all other choices. Cide from Latin means “killer” or “act of killing”. The protagonist, Cody, has chosen to kill his options. Using these words provides the reader insight into Cody’s character. The second line “It was final.” also alludes to death. To emphasize death further I wrote “All the remains, knickknacks, personal mementos, and small valuables were taped up in moving boxes and stacked methodically in Mitch’s room.” Remains of course refers to a dead body. The idea of the remains being taped up in moving boxes implies coffins. Having them methodically packaged and put into one room implies a tomb.
But then I switch gears and write, “But today was about the powder. The pure white virgin snow generously blanketing the ski resort up in the Colorado Rockies.” With pure white virgin snow, I altered the tone from death to innocence and life. The dark stuff is buried in the cabin and youthful innocence is celebrated in Breckenridge. Now we’re in the opulent and youthful world of a premier ski resort. It’s Christmas time and the young rich are at a hook up bar living like Romans, drinking, dancing and on the prowl. Macallan Scotch, which Shaun, one of the protagonist’s friends is drinking, is not cheap.
Then I decide to weave into the dialogue a hint. “Did you check out those custom-made ones Klaus had on today?” Cody asks his buddy Bard in reference to Klaus’s skis. To which Bard respond, “I thought he was going to come out of them and break his fucking leg.” The conversation is a foreshadowing. But I wrote it to seem like a segment of casual conversation between two buddies at a bar about their third buddy.
I provide another foreshadowing in reference to the Japanese woman the drunk Klaus is dancing with. Bard points out Miyuki means “snow”. In fact, all four of the women the boys are dancing with refer to winter and the weather. Bianca means “white” and relates to snow. Nevada means “snow covered”. Shayla is a variant of the name Shaila which means “mountain”. This becomes important when another character is introduced later in the story.
When Shayla and Nevada first hit on Cody and Bard and we quickly find out Cody is a good negotiator. The women want Cody to buy them drinks but he wants something for his money: a pole dance out on the floor. The reason I picked this bar as the setting for the scene is because it actually has a dancing pole out on the floor…or at least it did when I wrote the story. I liked the masculine element of the pole and also the best position in a car race is pole position.
Cody’s a winner. He’s a winner on the track and a winner with women. He collects trophies and the women at the bar are in his mind just that. Of course, I picked the song “Little Red Corvette” by Prince for the ladies to dance to because Cody is a racecar driver. I love picking out songs for my books. It sets the tone for what’s going on. Lyrics are especially important in songs even if you cannot print them in a book. Every novel I write has a reference to songs and that means research. I don’t just pick the song because I like it. I pick it because it works in the story. I’ll continue on with my anatomy of the first chapter of Chicane next week.
STREAM OF THE WEEK: It Takes a Lunatic
Since everyone is staying home because of Covid-19 I thought it might be fun to do a weekly movie recommendation for a film you may have passed over that is presently streaming on either on Netflix, Amazon, HBO or Showtime. This week I’m picking the Netflix documentary It Takes A Lunatic. If you are into acting it’s an interesting biography about one of the top acting teachers in New York City named Wynn Handman who established The American Place Theatre. He was instrumental in launching the careers of Richard Gere, Sam Shepard, Frank Langella, Lauren Graham, Eric Bogosian, Connie Britton, John Leguizamo, Chris Cooper, Bill Irwin to name just a few. The film says he’s still teaching today at the age of 97. The documentary is more for theatre buffs (not musicals) but I enjoyed it and thought I’d mention it.
I post every Thursday. In the meantime you can check out my novel Chicane on Amazon.