The Back Forty (Behind the Scenes)

I lay in my bed reading a book by a Buddhist scholar a friend had sent to me when there came a knockin’ at my door. I opened it to find Cain standing there holding two cups of coffee.

“What are you doing here?” I asked “I wasn’t gonna write about you today.”

“I know, but we have a problem,” he said handing me one of the cups, he sat on a recliner in my living room. “That thing Diane said to you about factual errors in the story. We gotta do something about that.”

“Yeah, I’ve been thinking about that,” I said and sat in the other recliner. “This writing straight fiction is tough.”

“Yeah it is. Especially writing a story as detail-oriented as this one,” He said and sipped his coffee. “And if you want people to take the story seriously at all, you gotta watch everything. Especially since it’s a thriller. I wouldn’t be especially thrilled or scared if there were glaring holes in the story right at the outset.”

“So what do you recommend I do?” I asked.

“Well, you first stated in Chapter 1.4 that Colin had given Sasquatch to the kids as a gift they really never asked for.”

“Madeline renamed the dog Sassy,” I reminded him.

“I know, and I thought that was particularly good. That and making the dog male to go with the name Sassy. Kind of serves to make the whole prospect of “let’s get a dog” a little more ludicrously endearing. Anyway, then you wrote at the start of Chapter 2 that Colin got the dog as a gift for Madeline, not the kids.”

“Yeah. And?”

“Well, you could write that somewhere in between Madeline planting the idea for the dog in Colin’s head and them presenting the dog to the kids, there was some sort of exchange where Madeline suggests that they present Sassy as a gift for the kids when really she was behind the whole thing for her own self-interest. That way, you get some of that “women are smarter than men” mojo, which is especially poetic given Colin’s subtle male chauvinism which she accepts for reasons you have already alluded to.”

“But it’s not really central to my story line.”

“Maybe not. But it’s still problematic for the intent reader,” he said. “Especially since you wrote that Madeline had never shown any interest in getting a dog in 1.4, then suddenly the dog was her brain child all the time in Chapter 2.”

“I see your point,” I said.

“You see my point,” Cain said.

“Hey man, I haven’t written fiction in 20 years. Cut me some slack.”

“Kind of lame excuse, homeboy.” He drank. “You started this story and now people want to read it. Can’t go back now. So what’s the verdict, chief?”

“Well, alright, let’s go with once Madeline gently convinced Colin to get the dog, she then, in an equally sneaky manner, convinced Colin that they should present the dog as a gift to you.”

“Even though I never asked for a dog.”


“Yeah, that’ll work I guess. But how are you gonna write it into the story?”

“I kind of just did.”

“Can you do that?”

“I’m the writer. I can do anything I want.”

“Within reason and the parameters of the universe you create in the story.”


Cain raised his lower lip and nodded. “Works for me. You gonna pay us a visit today?”

“Again, I kind of just did.” I smiled.

He shook his head and grinned himself. “Alright. See ya when I see ya.”

“See ya when I see ya,” I said.

One thought on “The Back Forty (Behind the Scenes)

  1. I love this story solution! Brilliant! Catching up on your blog backwards tonight and enjoying every word. Good news is The Back 40 can be read and followed this way- not an easy task for a writer to accomplish that magic. Go you!


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