Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Continuity, or changing clothes while handcuffed

It's always a good idea to have a fresh pair of eyes go over your manuscript before submitting it for publishing.  Yes, you wrote it, edited it, polished and know it by heart, but there are always inconsistencies that will make your reader go "What? Wait -"
I was reminded of this at our recent GRRWG meeting, when we teased a fellow member about how one of her character's clothes changed in the middle of a scene.  We've all done the same - the hero's eyes started out blue but were green by the end of the book; he wore a winter coat at the beginning of the week but attended a summer picnic a week later.  It's not inattention on our part.  Writing a book takes a long time and we lose sight of details.
Shortly after the meeting, I finished reading a book by a major author.  I'm sure she has an editor if not an agent who should have pointed out a couple of inconsistencies.  Like her hero, while handcuffed, changed clothes several times during his incarceration.  And one of the secondary characters lamenting that she didn't have time to release her pet panther from where it was boarded, but shows up in the next scene with it at her side.
All these errors should have been caught.
Whether you're a new or established writer, print or digitally published, hand your manuscript to someone else and let them check your work with a jaundiced eye.  Fix, eliminate or explain the problems.  Your work will be stronger and you won't jerk the reader from the story.
As the saying goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. 

1 comment:

Brynn Paulin said...

Excellent advice! May my characters never change clothes in the trunk of a car again!!! LOL :-)

It's definitely helpful to keep notes. I check my list every single time I mention hair and eye color. It's helpful to keep notes on the spelling of last names and place/business names too.