ANSWER TO OCTOBER EXERCISE:
The fly in this ointment is the past perfect tense, or rather, the lack of it. For correct grammar, you must either find a way around it, or use it. Either way, the first step is to understand it. “I went to the store yesterday,” establishes a time in the past tense. Anything that happened before that time should be written in the past perfect tense.
Example: I went to the store yesterday. It was my second trip in two days because I had gone there the day before and had forgotten to buy milk.
As you can see, it slows. It’s clumsy. Still, you must use it unless you can get around it, as many of the comments have done. They’re great. Read them.
Here’s mine. I’ll label it, tragedy.
I flung open the door. The cupboard lay bare of milk, not a drop, not even a milk bone.
Would it never cease? I tore my hair. To the store? To the store again for the second day? What if someone saw me? What if they guessed? The family name—the Hubbard name—would live in infamy for time without end.
Getting around past perfect does not mean departing from the story line to do it. Better to use it than to stall or clutter the story with something that distracts or does not fit.