After the Brainstorm: Failed First Drafts

The first drafts of Out of Balance read like script tryouts.

Take 1, Scene 1

We meet the first Saturday of the month at the Tea Room for brunch. It is the one day each month we can count on for ourselves without the demands of work, children, husbands, boyfriends or extended family members.

I arrive first, toting my winter bag full of gifts: a black scarf with looping cursive letters spelling Barbie for Vi, an accounting software program specifically designed to kept track of multilevel marketing for Lisa, and after brunch my husband Derrick and my three-year-old daughter Zenith will go out together to purchase a gift for me—a new paperback romance.

Take 2, Scene 1:

I work at a small community bank called New Horizon Bank. We started as a savings and loan before turning into a commercial bank with the highest rating in Northern California. I am the new hire in loan operations, trying to learn everything I can as quickly as I can.

Take 3, Scene 1:

“Glamour is in the eyes of the beholder,” Lisa Tran.

Everyone thinks she is stupid because she is pretty. People do not believe her when she tells them she works for the chief financial officer at Vine Valley Bank. When she shows them her name badge, people exclaim, “Oh, you’re a teller!” in the same way people say, “Oh, you’re a game show hostess” to the likes of Vanna White.

Take 4, Scene 1:

Sure, I look like a million bucks but I only cost $20. Ask my husband. That’s how much it cost for us to go on a date last night—babysitter $10, ice cream cones $7, parking $3 –one hour together without the world at our throats—priceless.

After all of these attempts, I re-evaluated what I was trying to accomplish. I liked the idea of a Mother’s Group in Take 1 but it felt a little too much like a mother’s version of Sex and the City. Take 2 sounded autobiographical and boring. Take 3 expressed a theme I wanted to pursue in the book, but it sounded too abstract and sociological. Although Take 4 achieved the chatty, amicable, loving and funny voice I wanted to carry the novel, the delivery was an obvious parody of the famous VISA commercials and I wanted something that was uniquely mine.

Flipping through several more pages of my notebook, I discovered the key—beginning the novel by introducing the antagonist.

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The Idea

Out of Balance, a wacky story about a former housewife turned executive assistant, started out as a jumble of notes taken during the first few weeks of my first full-time job working for a corporation. Every day I came home from work feeling worse than I have ever felt. Not knowing how I would survive another day, my husband wisely suggested I start a journal detailing all the terrible events that happened to me each day. “If you can make the events funny, then you can turn your tears into laughter,” he said.

Brainstorming

Brainstorming Out of Balance was an interesting process. Normally I begin a book with a single sentence, an idea, or a character. This time, however, I began with a notebook full of odd events from working in a corporate world. Everything from how to work the copier to spilling coffee in the break room to masking a yawn as a facial tick was wedged into a 100 page spiral bound notebook.

Here’s a sneak-peek at uncensored brainstorming notes:

Mr. Eventually
the Pit
the creatives
“crazy busy” instead of crazy about you
striking out in the most embarrassing aspect
don’t assume because I have a “passion” and “children” that I am not ambitious or take my job seriously

That random list led to a brief childhood memory:

I saw the movie, Working Nine-to-Five, when I was about my daughter’s age. I never wanted a job like that. It was too much time, too much drama, too much stress. I valued my time much more than I valued money. I remember the hatred the women had for their boss, the hours spent drinking and crying and complaining after hours, and the insane plots to retaliate against office politics. Not to mention the lack of fulfilling male-female relationships or the warmth and support of family. I just didn’t want any of that.

And eventually the beginnings of a plot:

Vine Valley Bank going to take down World Bank before FDIC seizes them. The narrator is caught in the middle. She needs a job to survive. Think corporate espionage meets The Desperate Housewives.

Out Of Balance

 

Out of Balance - Angela Lam Turpin
Coming this spring

Former stay-at-home wife and mother, Beverly Mael, turns her life upside down in Out of Balance, a hilarious new novel about bank shenanigans and underground cyber societies.

 

Caught between her husband, the ultimate prankster, and her boss, the charmingly seductive President and CEO of Vine Valley Bank, Beverly struggles to keep her husband’s secret and help her boss’s blind ambition without losing her marriage or her job. Floundering through dictation during the day and falling asleep in her dinner at night, Beverly needs to get away from it all.  But a surprise date turns sour when Beverly discovers her unemployed husband has developed a computer program that can change the world—for better or worse.  To complicate matters, the bank’s president keeps lavishing praise on Beverly, giving her the attention she desperately craves from home.  Armed only with a gift for numbers and a steadfast faith in God, Beverly must stop her husband’s pact with the cyber underworld and uncover the truth about World Bank’s false profit before it’s too late.