Always and Never

An old adage, “Never say never,” prompts another never. Never say always in a novel. “She always washes her hair on Friday evening.” Oh? What about the Friday when the protagonist was hospitalized from a motorcycle accident in chapter 23?

Every, another word to omit. “You can set your clock by my neighbor. He brings in the newspaper every morning at seven.” Oh? What about the morning the newspaper was stolen while he slept?

I’ve done a search and replace for never, always and every. That forced me to update my female protagonist’s character outline with her new hair-washing routine. She’s heavy on ecology, so I chose odd-numbered days. I updated the neighbor’s profile when I reduced his newspaper to weekends. Boy, oh boy, was he surprised!

I didn’t stop there. I saved gallons of water when I clipped the protagonist’s long blonde hair into a spike. I deleted her wishes for a jacuzzi. Now she’s begging her landlord to install a water-saving toilet. I educated the paper-reading neighbor to online news. That saved a forest of trees.

None (another word to eliminate) of my cozy mystery drafts is polished to publishing perfection. This is the ideal time to write a nonfiction how-to-book on edits for ecology-oriented authors.

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