Derek’s best friend is Andy. Andy’s parents never minded feeding Derek when he showed up at meal time, but Andy’s dad hasn’t ever invited Derek to join them on a hunting trip. When they were in fourth grade, Andy helped Derek sneak in through his bedroom window, and that’s how Derek (and then Nate) got chicken pox.
I thought at first that Nate’s best friend was Russel, but when I realized Russ isn’t dependable enough to be a true friend, I found Hiram, known to his buddies as “Hi Ho Silver” because his last name is Silberman. One year Hi and Nate got into trouble setting up a haunted house for Halloween. When I find out what happened, I’ll write that story.
An author’s first problem is where to begin the story. An author’s last problem is to find out if the story begins in the right place.
For Two Roads, I expected the story to begin and end with Derek and Nate standing under a street light and making the decisions that would start or complete the action.
By the second draft, I knew that would be as if the brothers dropped from outer space; where did they come from? Why here? Is this a chance meeting, or is there something behind it? Why weren’t they together in the first place?
So I backed up. First I backed up too far and added stuff that didn’t matter either to Derek and Nate or to you, the reader. Delete key.
But before Derek reaches that lighted spot, I must show you where he comes from and why he’s coming now.