by Doug Cooper
The creation and reading of books is really just another contract. Authors invest their time and resources developing a product for readers who agree to purchase and spend their time consuming the content in exchange for some educational, entertainment, or other value. Well family and friends may buy and read the book out of love or obligation, but I’m talking about the public all authors are trying to reach beyond those first few hundred in their immediate networks.
With so many variables, it can be all too easy for authors to get caught up in chasing trends, eventually encountering a paralysis of analysis of what they think readers want but never quite hitting the mark. When I’m formulating an idea for a novel and start losing my way, I remind myself why I like to read and bring it back to these three basic components: Different faces, spaces, and paces.
· Faces: I read to meet interesting, and intoxicating people. Our everyday lives can become mundane with minimal interaction and influence from individuals who inspire, intrigue, and inflame us to some visceral reaction or make us contemplate a change in our own lives. To help create characters who people are willing to take into their bathrooms, bedrooms, and on vacation with them, I create a full profile beyond their physical attributes, external motivation, and backstory. What is their psychic wound, their karmic debt? What’s their Myers Briggs personality type? Are they an ESFJ, an INFP, an ESTJ? What are their psychological and sociological traits? How are their relationships with others? What are there intimacy issues? I end up not using a lot of the information, but it is not wasted effort. It brings the person to life and a framework to refer back to.
· Spaces: I read to visit strange and stirring locations, or maybe even settings I have been to, but the book allows me to see it through someone else’s eyes or in a different time period. The world is a vast and wondrous place. Even if we had unlimited resources and could travel every day for the rest of our lives, we might experience a breadth of locations, but would we be able to absorb the depth? And what about the books set in fantasy or futuristic settings? Books allow us to enter and live in these worlds. For both of my novels, I moved to the location and lived for an extended a period of time. While I’m able to glean a lot of information spending a week or two at a time researching a location, to really know it, it really makes a difference to experience a full course of seasons, to be there on a random Tuesday when the storm of the century hits, to meet and gain the trust of the locals, who can take me to an even deeper level of appreciation for the place, not just the polished surface most visitors see.
· Paces: I read to embark on exciting, and evocative journeys. It’s not enough to have dynamic people in a fascinating setting. The plot must connect them with the readers and take everyone for a ride that delivers the expected value. Each day holds endless possibilities for what we could do in our lives, but we usually end up driving the same way to work, eating at the same restaurants, and listening to the same music. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. We like what we like and our desire for efficiency and certainty push us to repeating our choices. When writing, it’s easy to fall into the same patterns. To safeguard against this fallible tendency, I throw away my first thought or reaction for what a character should do. This response is typically what I would do or I’m so locked into a direction that I’m pushing my characters rather than letting them take me where they would go and do what they would do. This is where the character profile and a deep understanding of the location are also extremely useful. I don’t have to speculate. I actually know what would a dwarf entrepreneur who was given up for adoption at birth and later made millions on an invention called the Lapkin, a napkin designed for your lap, would do when he realizes he is overextended financially and unable to deliver on the biggest deal of his life with McDonalds.
Why do you read? For whatever reason you open books, the next time you do I hope you encounter fresh faces moving through sensational spaces at provocative paces.
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Doug's Newest Upmarket Release: The Investment Club
Told from the perspective of a seasoned blackjack dealer, The Investment Club tells the stories of a self-destructive, dwarf entrepreneur, a drug-addicted musical performer-turned-stripper, a retired, widowed New Jersey policeman, a bereaved, divorced female sportscaster, and a card-counting, former Catholic priest before and after their fateful meeting at the El Cortez Casino in downtown Vegas.
As the five learn the greatest return comes from investing in one another, their lives stabilize and take on new, positive directions. But their love and support for each other can take them only so far before they must determine the meaning and value of their own lives.
Available Here: Amazon | Barnes & Noble