So, I'm laying in a tub of hot, Epsom-salted water, reading -- which you would do, too if you were as old and achy as me -- when I stubbed my toe on a common mistake.
Naturally, just as anyone would do, I called out for a pencil. (Read Tam's recounting at the link, then come back.)
I've been digging through Larry Brooks' Story Engineering, which has been informative so far. He uses a teaching technique I recognize, going after the same point from different angles, sneaking up on it, dropping back, paraphrasing, using multiple examples and expanding to an extent that makes me a little impatient. But he's trying to make the lesson sink in and if you play along, it does.
One of his examples was from The Da Vinci Code, a listing of the possible "What Ifs?" that might have informed the initial plotting. Third on the list was, in part, "What if [the child of Jesus] survived and the lineage continues to this day, meaning the ancestors of Christ are walking among us?"
Theology aside, and granting that the Old Testament lists remarkable lifespans for some of those ancestors, they do have one other thing in common: they're all dead. On the other hand and at least for the purposes of fiction, any hypothetical descendant might indeed be walking among us.
The arrow of time runs in only one direction. Ancestors are not descendants. Descendants are not ancestors.
So I crossed out the wrong word and penciled in the correct one.
While in the bathtub. It was good enough for Archimedes, after all.
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