My husband Dean proofreads my writing. He notices things—missing details, inaccuracies, and facts I need to research. I truly value and appreciate his help. I’m currently writing Daughter of the Bride, a novel set in the 1890s. It’s about a young girl named Ellen whose mother (Lenore) answers an advertisement and marries a younger man, a farmer (Cal), after the death of her husband and Ellen’s father (Frank).
On chapter ten Cal is getting ready to herd twenty head of cattle to his farm. Before he leaves, he buys another bull. Now he has two.
“Why does he need another bull?” Dean asked.
“Because he’s bringing home twenty cows.”
“One bull is enough.”
“Are you sure?” I know nothing about a bull’s virility.
He laughed. “I think one bull can easily service twenty cows. How many cows does he already have?”
“He has two milk cows.”
“Why does he have two milk cows and a bull?”
Without thinking, I said, “Well, when Ellen first arrived on the farm she saw two milking cows and one calf in the barn and a bull in the pasture.”
“Oh she did, did she?” He laughed again. “Well, maybe Ellen needs to ask Cal why in the hell does he have two milk cows and a bull. Maybe he has a good answer. If not, he’s a dumb ass.” Dean gets really tickled with himself after this statement. It takes him a moment to stop laughing. “He didn’t need the first bull to begin with. He could have bought the other cows already pregnant. If you keep the first bull, you don’t need the second one.”
I thought, why not! I liked the scene I wrote in chapter ten. “I could have her see more than those cows in the barn in chapter two. Maybe the rest are in the pasture.”
“What’s the ratio between the number of cows per bull?” He went to the computer and googled it. “About twenty-five cows to one bull. Then Cal really doesn’t need another bull.”
“Ellen sees the first bull in chapter two. Maybe I can change it to where the bull is old.”
“Then you can have Cal say something like, ‘he’s old and falling down on his job’.” He thought that was pretty funny, too. “But it still doesn’t take care of the fact that Cal has so few cows and a bull. He didn’t need the first bull.
“No one cares about the damned cows anyway! Just because Ellen saw only two doesn’t mean there aren’t anymore.” I feel frustrated at this point.
“You kill me.” My husband cracked up. He loves to make fun of me. “Ellen saw those cows?”
“The story is from her point of view. I only have to write what she sees and she only saw those two cows, one being milked.”
“You’re so cute.” Dean grinned and then mimicked me, “‘Ellen only saw two cows’.” He laughed at me again. “And Ellen saw the bull, so by God it’s staying there.”
I laughed with him. That bull and those damned cows had gotten to be pretty funny.
I think I’ll add some more cows in chapter two (and make sure Ellen sees them), so Cal can keep the old and the new bull. I don’t want him to be a dumb ass.