Once I returned home from the holidays, I focused on what the story of Trash Dick should be. I knew I wanted the main character to be strong and outspoken, I wanted her to have a career, and I wanted her to have the primary goal of finding a quality sex partner. After all, this was a woman who lived in a world where bad sex was everywhere, so I wanted to make her quest a bit of a challenge.
The creative process is mysterious and oftentimes hard to describe once things begin to fall into place. But I knew I had something good once I started to develop the first draft of the outline for the story. I had my main character, Alicia Williams, and a cast of characters around her as she worked as a project manager in Davis, California. But she needed a love interest who would challenge her and be someone who could offer her what she desired most.
Enter Mitch Kessler, program director at Davis Community Television. I had worked there when I lived in Davis and thought that would be a fun place for him to work, but now I had to figure out how these two would meet. Once I decided on that element, more pieces began to fall into place.
The initial outline for Trash Dick was 14 pages. I’m sure if I re-outlined the final product, it would be much longer, but I wanted to flesh out what I had at the time to see where the story went. At that point, it was okay. It wasn’t really a strong story; the conflict wasn’t there, and there were lots of elements missing that would come about later in the process.
Stories need time to breathe and evolve, so I let the story do just that: take me along for the ride. At this point in the process, I wasn’t thinking about publishing or any of those aspects of the endgame. I focused more on making Alicia Williams and her world believable, interesting, and funny. And I also realized as I was working on the outline that Alicia wasn’t very likable. I wanted her to be outspoken and direct, but I had to find ways to show that this was just one side of who she was. I decided on the perfect character to soften her just a little and endear her to the reader.
After completing the initial outline, I took a break and let new ideas invade my brain for a couple of weeks. I kept notes on a legal pad and my phone, trying to put the ideas in chronological order as they would appear in the story. This was the moment I decided on the story’s timeline and the two big events that would bookend the story.
After more work on the outline, I decided it was time for the real work to begin. It was time to start the first draft of Trash Dick.
We’ll talk about that process in the next post. See you then!