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.