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Genesis of a Historical Novel

Thursday, April 14, 2005

point of attack

A short writing day. I picked up my mother in Cove Cliff to take her to the credit union and an appointment with a lawyer--part of the long journey of administering the estate of our old family friend Harvey Burt, who died in December 2003 at age 83. In between, she treated me to lunch at Browns Restaurant & Bar at Lonsdale and 18th, a small, trendyish place with dark butcher-block tables and a dark wood-laminate floor. I had the teriyaki rice bowl: sweetish and vinegary.

Kim had taken a couple of hours off work this morning to accompany Robin (her daughter) to a doctor's appointment at Capilano College. Robin's boyfriend Trev drove them.

I had to cram what writing I could in the hour or so before I left to pick up Mom. I hadn't quite done with my chapter 14 notes. I wanted to make sure I understood what Alexander is up to, and wanted to find the right point of attack. This is the place at which a story or chapter begins. It should always be at the latest possible point, so as not to waste the reader's time and to keep the interest sustained. No boring preliminaries: jump into the middle. Start at a run and let the reader sort things out as best he or she can.

I had begun the chapter at the point where Marcus already had Alexander in tow for the temple of Atargatis, thinking, after a quick peruse of the series of events, that this was the point just before the arising of interesting conflict. Now, with my new Alexander beats, I wanted to show the progression of Alexander's feelings and attitude, which meant moving the point of attack up to the first beat, immediately after the end of chapter 13.

I opened the chapter draft and started typing. Yes, Alexander has a bit more life. There's something to tell now about him, albeit from Marcus's point of view. I wrote the better part of a page at the top of the chapter. It's now sitting at 14 pages long.

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