Overlooking the Obvious #amwriting #amediting

The membership of the Southern Indiana Writers Group has changed over the twenty or so years we’ve been together. Some of us have been there the whole time. Others have left, and new members have joined. So, when I began the rewrite on the book formerly known as Eel’s Reverence (first published as Eel’s Revenge), I decided I couldn’t do better than to take it and read it to the group, a chapter at a time.

I knew that the chances were good that the new members would catch things we missed in our earlier days. Sure enough, one of our long-time members caught something and one of our new members caught something else.

As the title implies, what we had all overlooked (chiefly, of course, me, since it’s my little world) were obvious. Things that, once pointed out, made me slap my forehead and go, “Duh!”

The main character is a woman, a priest of Micah, a holy man of legend. The main conflict is between her and the priests of a section of coastline called The Eel, who are mercenary hypocrites. Her spiritual stance and behavior are central to the action. And what did I forget?

She’s hidden by a family who had prepared a secret room, certain that a “true” priest would come to them, eventually. And I forgot to have them put an altar in the room.

Although she’s always saying to others or thinking to herself about what a priest of Micah would do, she never has an inner dialog with Micah, the way Christians pray to God the Father, Jesus, Mary, or a saint. I could pretend I decided priests of Micah don’t do that, but that would be a lie. I just left it out. Didn’t think of it. Missed the obvious.

I know why I did it: I was thinking about other parts of the story construction. But that’s what rewrites are for, and that’s especially what getting new eyes on something is for: reminding us of the obvious things we overlooked in writing and editing and rewriting and revising and reworking. And I still missed the obvious!

A WRITING PROMPT FOR YOU: Is there anything obvious you’ve overlooked in your main character or setting?



I was born in Louisville, Kentucky, but now live in the woods in southern Indiana. Though I only write fiction, I love to read non-fiction. The more I learn about this world, the more fantastic I see it is.

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One thought on “Overlooking the Obvious #amwriting #amediting

  1. Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt

    March 13, 2017 at 4:43pm

    i’m curious. Have you decided what to do with the title?

    Struggling with titles is like struggling with the Angel God sent Jacob. There is a surrender in it – to the right title, though titles do get changed.

    I’m glad you’re thinking about your character’s priestly responsibilities. It will be interesting to hear about the choices you make there – will it be a significant part of the story, or just something your character knows so well she never thinks about it except under extraordinary circumstances. You picked her profession for a reason.

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    • Author

      Marian Allen

      March 13, 2017 at 5:08pm

      I haven’t decided on the title yet. I’m kind of leaning toward The Wolves of Port Novo at the moment.

      The book is all about the character’s priestly responsibilities, which is why it’s so weird I didn’t have any dialog between her and her inspiration. She THINKS and ACTS with her vocation as the fabric of her being, but no direct communication like prayer. I have to give that some serious thought.

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  2. Dan Antion

    March 14, 2017 at 6:38am

    I’m not writing fiction, so the “main character” that I write about is me. I’ve overlooked enough obvious things to write a book 🙂

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  3. Mike

    March 19, 2017 at 7:51am

    I’m just curious if you have ever devised a list of questions to help make sure that a character’s description is complete?

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    • Author

      Marian Allen

      March 19, 2017 at 9:22am

      Oh, Mike, a character’s description is never COMPLETE, but I do use questions to help. Search for the Writing category, and you’ll find many examples!

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