301. Shane begins his novel
© Bruce Goodman 7 August 2014

Shane decided to write a novel. But decisions! Decisions!

With what word should he begin? Should he begin with the definite or the indefinite article? If indefinite, would it be “a” or “an”? It all very much depended on the second word. Would the second word start with a vowel? Or even with an “h”. Like if it was read in America where they don’t pronounce the “h” in “herb”, or in Australia where they do pronounce the “h” in “herb”. How could he write with everyone in mind? How could his novel be relevant to English-speaking countries of different cultures and accents and dialects? How to have universal appeal? What a conundrum! He would definitely have to start his novel with “The” and not with “A” or “An”. The question of the “h” in “herb” pointed to the solution: “An herb” would sound wrong in Tasmania, and “A herb” would sound silly in Massachusetts. He would begin the novel with a “The”. Although he knew, deep-down, that a publisher could weed out the “The”. He knew, deep down, he had to remain open to the fickle whims of editorial staff; they could wipe out his “The” with a stroke of the pen.

With a bold and firm hand, Shane wrote down “The”.

So far so good, he thought. Now for the second word…

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