When you get around to editing, it's pretty important to keep an eye out for inconsistencies in your writing.
I'm talking about small things like the spelling of a name. Or a name changing for no reason in the middle of the story.
Or punctuation. Are you applying (or ignoring) grammatical rules consistently?
It sounds like a silly thing to do, but it's amazing how fast a reader can pick up the smallest change. They might not see it. They might not be able to put their finger on the problem, but something will yank them out of the story and make them wonder what changed.
So don't let something like a silly inconsistency damage the reading experience. It's so not worth it.
Look Out for These:
1) US vs UK spelling.
So which inconsistencies catch you every time? Which ones have caught you in the past?
Since the names of my characters are unusual, I really try to keep them consistent. I'll do several searches to make sure each one matches. Because I've found that in typing 'Byron' I've slipped once or twice and typed 'Bryon' which is also a real name. (Thus Spellcheck does not say hey, stupid, you spelled it wrong!)ReplyDelete
This is why the first draft takes me so long, because I'm always concerned about grammar and tense. Also, I try to be consistent with my US/UK spelling. Technically I'm supposed to write in the US form, but I think the UK form looks so much more beautiful. Something about those U's (favourite, et. al.).ReplyDelete
I agree with you that it looks prettier. I prefer grey to gray and blonde to blond.Delete
One of my characters changed hair colour half-way through the book. Thank God I picked it up. If I leave a WIP for a while before coming back I have to try doubly hard to remember what car the character drives, the name of his best friend...Many people leave post-its with this information on the wall.ReplyDelete
Although I am a crafting blogger and not a writing blogger, I do understand the importance about consistency in writing. My biggest challenge has indeed been slowing down and checking my spelling and grammar. Thanks for the reminder.ReplyDelete
Eye color. Time of day. Where they're at and where there heading. I'm reading through my entire MS. Reading it out loud trying to find those tongue-twister sentences.ReplyDelete
Thank you for visiting my blog! I appreciate the support! :) I'm constantly editing my posts before they publish, but I admit to using UK/Canadian spellings of some words (such as 'colour').ReplyDelete
Names are my dilemma. I think up so many in any given story that, if it's a long one, by the end the original name is so twisted that it doesn't even resemble the original. It's why I've taken to spelling all names in a first draft in all caps. Easier to find that way and catalog.ReplyDelete
Good luck on your first book! Looking forward to seeing you cross that deadline successfully. :)
A to Z Blogger & SF/Fantasy Writer @ Visions of Other Worlds
Consistency is sooo important. It drives me batty when a writer uses both towards and toward in a single MS.ReplyDelete
Consistency is really important. Thanks for the reminder.ReplyDelete
I switched two characters names, but at least I switched their personalities too...I hope that makes sense.ReplyDelete
Keeping tings consistent sounds deceptively easy. Making sure each character speaks the way they should, acts the way they should is hard enough. Throw in the rest of the novel and dang, it just gets harder.ReplyDelete
I'm not much on making lists-just ask my wife-but i've gone to making cue cards to keep track of details for my novel. 300 pages is a lot to edit, especially on the fifth or sixth run. Find and replace really helps edit names as well. If your brain keeps wanting to spell it one way, or spellcheck isn't catching an obvious typo, type in the one you hang up on and replace it with what you want.ReplyDelete
Thanks for visiting Texas, by the way.
Tate's Other Side
Thanks for sharing such great insights through your posts. At the end of the challenge, your blog would serve as a ready reference and must read for every first time writer!ReplyDelete
Ooh, grammar for sure. Wait, you were in Texas and I didn't hear about it? If you're ever near San Antonio/Austin the first pitcher of margaritas is on me! : )ReplyDelete
Names. I once found a character who'd I'd referred to by at least four different ones. :P Systems of measurement sometimes throw me, too; probably because I write SF, I get confused as to whether to use metric or not.ReplyDelete
I used to forget what characters looked like until I started keeping notes. That way I keep the eyes and hair consistent throughout.ReplyDelete
Another thing to watch in terms of consistency is timing. I always have to be careul to go back and make sure that what I said would take 2 days in the beginning actually takes 2 days. :)ReplyDelete
These are some really good points that you bring about in this post. This would really help me out when I'm writing.ReplyDelete
This is a great post! I've always had problems with a consistent voice for a character. Having several characters who wear different shoes is always tough to juggle!ReplyDelete
Thanks for following my blog!
The UK vs. US spelling made me laugh because I'm taking this online writing class. One of my classmates is Canadian, and in the stories she submits she uses UK spelling. We always tease her about it, and she teases us for our "uneducated" spelling. :)ReplyDelete
Anyway, that maybe doesn't have so much to do with this post. One thing I've had trouble in is changing a character's name (on purpose) halfway through and then forgetting all the places I've written their name out. I changed a character's name from Blanche to Bridget halfway through my latest short story.
This is great advise, even for those of us who don't write anything other than reports for work and blog posts.ReplyDelete
I have realized that I have a tendency to be inconsistent where names of secondary characters are concerned. I look for such errors in my books before my CP's start reading.ReplyDelete
Consistency is vital in writing. And it gets easier the longer we write, I think. But I always have to watch out for certain inconsistencies that I always make. (Mine is names) Yikes!ReplyDelete
Great post, Misha! :-)
I must admit, being Canadian, I'm always having to check how I spell things. But, more importantly, I'm having to also look out for idioms. Like the other day, my CP caught "took a fit" vs "threw a fit". The only thing I could figure is one is the Canadian version and the other American. It left me perplexed!ReplyDelete
I look out for all of the above. :) I keep notes on eye color and hair color right next to me so I don't forget. I remember my cp saying one time--how is it that the guy's eyes are brown here and blue here.....Hmm...ReplyDelete
Great advice! I am terrible at spelling. I look forward to reading the rest of your A to Z posts!ReplyDelete
Just a Nice Girl
Excellent tips! I have issues with the US/UK thing. And I have a CP from Australia who thankfully keeps me on my toes. :)ReplyDelete
Consistancy is to important! Recently, in an advanced reader's copy a POV suddenly changed and I was jolted out of the story for a bit...ReplyDelete
Thanks for the reminder!!
I'm mystified when I see a spelling/grammar mistake in a published book. It makes me think the project wasn't loved enough! My spellcheck tries to change to US spelling all the time, but UK will always be my preference.ReplyDelete
Consistency is the first rule of writing... i really appreciate itReplyDelete