Today, I'm taking the scene that I wrote yesterday and making it into the first chapter of a James Patterson novel. I've been doing some research, and here's what I've found:
1. Short chapters are key. Two or three pages, four max.
2. Short paragraphs are also key. One sentence. Two sentences. Anything to keep your reader's eye on the page.
3. The main character is always in first person. If we're not in a chapter that focuses on the main character, it's going to be in third.
4. There's never more than a couple of paragraphs with nothing happening. There's a lot of dialogue, a lot of action. Especially the first chapter - start with something wrong.
So, let's take a second to reassess my scene from yesterday. It's short, sure. But the paragraphs are too long, and the plot is moving too slowly for a Patterson. Also, most of his first chapters start from the POV of the hero, and therefore in first person. I'm not too attached to Joanne Thomas, and I don't really think she's the likely hero of this story. So, I'm going to make the hero the handsome gym attendant, who in real life works... I don't know, as a private detective. Is that Patterson enough for you? Work is slow, so he picked up an extra job, and he happens to be there on the one night when his skills are the most needed.
This is typed right into my 'new post' box. This is straight from my mind to the blogosphere, so anything incredibly idiotic is just a little added bonus for you.
I'd never worked at a gym half this exciting. I could see him, the little bastard, hiding behind a corner and watching one of the women working out.
“Hey,” I said, and felt a stirring of pride when he flinched before looking at me.
I still got a kick out of intimidating weasels like this guy, even three years off the job. And a man who doesn't respect a woman is someone who needs to be taught some kind of lesson.
“Look man,” he whined, “Don't report me, okay? I'm in enough trouble as it is.”
“Trouble?” Now he had my attention.
“I got busted a couple of weeks ago for being in the women's locker room, okay?”
I saw red, but luckily for the guy in front of me, only for a few seconds before I got it back under control. Jesus, I thought. I almost lost it there.
The guy was still looking at me, like he had done nothing wrong and wanted me to let him off the hook with nothing but a warning. That would never do.
He had no idea how close he was to getting pulled outside and taught a lesson on how to respect women.
“Yeah,” I finally managed, through gritted teeth. “You can go.” He must have seen the effort it had taken to say those words, so he went, and went quickly.
I had tried, once before, to teach one of the creeps here just what I thought about men who tried to use women in ways they didn't want to be used. I had almost gotten fired over it, but the guy in question had never come back.
I looked over at the woman who had been the unwitting show for this evening. My eyes widened as I took her in. I knew her.
But my thoughts were cut off with a loud grunt of pain from behind me.
Still not perfect, but I'm working on it. My other half says that being able to perfectly impersonate Patterson would be an awesome thing to put on a resume. I think it would be strange, but also hilarious.
What do you think? Let me know!