I solved the problem concerning George’s young age. I made him a couple of years older. I’ll explain what happened.
While writing the original draft, I thought I would show the maturing of George throughout the book. I thought that the best way to do this was to start him off young, say age 12 or 13, and put him through high school. I didn’t intend to write the Odyssey of George Belt, but if you start a story when a kid is 12 or 13 and try to take him through the next 5 or 6 years of life, you are destined to either fail or write a 12 volume epic.
So after I wrote the first draft or two, I revised my thinking (years ago) and shortened the time frame of the story. I opened it on George’s 15th birthday, at the end of his 9th year of school. That meant that it would only take a few years to get him to the end of his basketball career in high school. That is more manageable.
But that caused me some problems that I still have to deal with. I wrote George, in the first drafts in the earlier stages of the story, as a young adolescent. I made him act and talk like a 12 or 13 year old. Instead of 12 and 13, he is now 14 and 15. As I work my way through the rewriting of the novel, I must convert the dialogue and the scenes to match George’s age.
One good thing about his advanced age, however, is that I can let him be Marie’s boyfriend after all. Or let Marie be his girlfriend. Whichever.
I’m working in Chapter 2 right now. I see things I like and things I must change, things that are good and things that are wonderful. I’ve worked on this thing so much over the years that I think I’ve scoured most of the ugly stuff out of it. I just need to figure out when I’m going to kill George.