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September 2, 2020

            One reason I’ve never tackled my very first novel before, and a big reason I used to tell every it would never “see the light of day” was “severalfold.” Hey, there’s a new word for you.

            As I initially said when I resurrected it a few weeks ago, the STORY wasn’t as bad as I first thought. Since it established the pattern I’ve used from day one, that was never the issue. I established A and B in my head before I ever sat down at the computer on Enable OA, which was the primitive software at the time, and just started typing.

            While it kept me mostly on a linear track, I’m sure I’ll find a few side issues to deal with along the way. I still had some of those to deal with in edits of both The Greenhouse and Lusitania Gold. While I only did a skim of The Cave, I still haven’t caught up to those yet.

            What I have found are other basic issues in the writing I need to deal with. Most are annoying but minor. However, one is a biggie.


            I’m a real stickler for third-person limited point of view. I can’t stand first-person, I can’t stand present-tense, and I can’t stand head-hopping. Don’t even get me started on second-person!

            This all didn’t come out of thin air, it came with time and over sixty years of reading, writing and drawing conclusions from what works, what works best, and what’s just damn annoying. I’ve talked repeatedly about point of view here at Fred Central, so you should know how I feel by now.

            Given that, what did I find?

            The first chapter was okay. It was written in a single point of view. The prose required some tweaking of structure here and there, then it was time to move on.

            However, chapter two where the main characters come in?

            Ruhr oh! Houston, we have a problem.

            There was NO point of view! It was a total head-hopping extravaganza! Just like…well…never mind. I don’t want to slam that other author who, by the way, still manages to put out at least a book a year.

            Anyway, it was nothing but head-hopping with no central character. It made me think of the back-cover blurb and how I’d have no way of pointing out who the story was about. A team? No central character? Not gonna fly.

            I had to read for a while before I figured one guy was the most dominant of the bunch. Turns out, he was the main character after all. Now it’s a matter of turning every chapter and scene into his point of view and ridding all the thoughts and POVs from everyone else, unless they have a major scene. There is room for other characters. The POV switches to the bad guy too. The book is designed for multiple POVs, I just have to control how many. There can’t be a hundred!


            This is another area where I really offended my much more refined sensibilities. The tags made me cringe…a lot!

            Given that this was only chapter two where I noticed how bad it was, I’m going to have my work cut out for me.


            It goes without saying that any new writer is going to tell rather than show. Plus they’re going to use a lot of passive phrases. I was no exception.

            For this run, to be honest, I’m more concerned with fixing the big stuff. When I catch the major things, I’ll fix them. It’ll probably take a second round to find most of the tell and some more of the passivity. There’s enough of it that I’m not going to catch it all in one sweep.


            Given the era in which I wrote it, and the market in which I want to sell, I glimpsed numerous “colorful metaphors” and other offensive words that are not politically correct in today’s cancel culture climate. I need to fix those. No need to even repeat them now. Some of them are things I probably would’ve changed anyway if I’d decided to work this thing earlier. After all, this was my first attempt and I was influenced by the books I was reading and the environment around me, which wasn’t necessarily a reflection of who I was. I knew there were rough edges to be smoothed out when and if I were ever to do something with this very rough draft. Second blush stuff where I go, “Nope, dumb idea.”


            Right on the very first page, I referenced a place that doesn’t actually exist thirty years later. Thanks to Google Maps, and then Wikipedia, I checked it out and discovered it not only doesn’t exist anymore, but it’s not even in the correct location for where the heroes are going to go. I was relying on a very old satellite map at the time and it apparently wasn’t very accurate. I’m sure as I delve deeper into the story, I’ll find other nasty surprises along the way.


            Since I shelved this one right after I wrote it, it’s going to be an adventure to resurrect The Cave. I’ve never read it to a writer’s group, had anyone critique it, except some unknown friend who edited it for me. Unfortunately, I cannot recall who did that long-ago edit. I cannot even recall what they thought of the overall story. Now I wish I knew so I could thank them!


            When you have something this old, it’s fascinating to see how much you’ve progressed. Rather than being embarrassed, I find it fitting that I can see a real progression from day one. That means I have and am still learning.

            I can’t wait to relive this adventure!

            Happy writing!

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