Adding a new character to join Hart on the run ratchets up the problem with credibility, which is making me consider about how to correct it.

The biggest problem is that while Hart's in the wilderness, I couldn't think of a plausible reason he couldn't just run further into the wilderness and loop around to safetly.

I tried to finesse that a little by having impassible physical barriers in two directions (which aren't there in the real world), corrupt cops in a third direction, and the mercenaries in the fourth direction. It was a bit of stretch, which I tried to ameliorate by having Hart hated by the people of John Day, further closing off that direction.

It was within the realm of fictional license, I figured.

But if I add another character, it means I have to figure out why SHE wouldn't be able to escape.

So with that dilemma, I think I came up with solution. The solution is so satisfying that even if I don't add the second character, I'll use it.

So this exercise is already paying dividends, making me think about the plot holes.

Having problems and coming up with solutions is sometimes the best way to plot. As long as the solution doesn't completely overturn the story and motivations of the characters.

I have to admit that the prospect of having an editor of a major publisher who is already inclined to like my stuff and who is open to considering the book has changed my approach. I'm taking more time than usual, trying to fix things that are "almost good enough." Not that I wasn't trying before, but somehow it's as if someone is looking over my shoulder and I'm anticipating his objections. 

I wrote Chapter 20 as if Nicole, the love interest, had been along with Hart the whole way, and I thought it worked really well. It's clear to me that it can be done.

Dave however thought it mollified the lone-wolf James Bond-ness of the the lead character, which had me third guessing myself.

This morning I went ahead and emailed my publisher and asked the question: lone wolf or love interest along? Figure it gives the editor the information that I'm well into a book, and maybe he'll give me a definitive answer.