Friday, April 13, 2012

A to Z Challenge: Location and Positioning

Related to consistency would be continuity. Yeah... I think that by now you've realized that I sound like a broken record. 
I've already spoken about gaps between scenes. I've already spoken about flow. What could there possibly be left to talk about?

Well... I'm talking about positioning and location, or other physical aspects.

Of all the things that really get me out of the story as a reader, Positioning errors probably go into my top twenty list of pet peeves.

I HATE when a character is sitting in one place, only to be revealed on the other side of the room two lines later. Or when a character is grievously injured, but with the injury never referred to again.

The reason why positioning and location is so important to me: the way I read. I can't tell how other people experience reading, but to me, reading is almost visual first. In other words, I must be able to see what's happening in my mind's eye.

So the moment a character isn't where he/she was a second ago. Or doing something that shouldn't be possible because of what happened seconds ago... Yeah. It stands out.

Luckily this is pretty much a seek and destroy sort of issue, so once you find something wrong with your character's positioning, location or something like that, the solution can be as easy as deleting a contradiction. If the contradiction is about a lack of something, the solution is a bit more complicated, since not only do you have to write it in, you might have to work it through your whole story.

Look Out for These:

1) Characters suddenly being somewhere far from where they were moments ago.

2) Characters doing something that's impossible given recent events.

3) A lack of continuity between one action and the next.

What was the biggest mistake you made about positioning/location?


  1. Great point to remember. Thanks for this, Misha!

  2. Like reaching for something on a shelf when a moment ago they were sitting?
    I'm a visual writer, so my story is playing like a movie in my head as I write. I try to avoid scene jumps and lost footage.

  3. It seems so obvious, doesn't it? But it's not. I've had my characters sitting one moment and then standing on tiptoe or whatever and never noticed it until I got to the editing stage (when someone told me). Deperate. Thanks for the reminder...I must take care...

  4. Not sure about my writing personally, but a funny one to encounter would be if the character suddenly changed sexes!

  5. I take issue with the opposite: when every single movement is described. There has to be a fine balance, I feel.

  6. I agree with Catherine. I don't think you need to describe every movement, but in a scene there needs to be a flow.

  7. Very good point. This can disasterous to a novel. Especially with observant readers and of course agents/publishers.

  8. I'm guilty of having someone hurt and then the hurt go away fast when it was a pretty serious injury. You're right: it stands out.

  9. I don't like it when a character does something out of character, or yes, something impossible.

  10. lol...I groaned when I read this post. I am so guilty of this. It is one step of proofreading--looking for this and correcting it. Mine are usually minor--which is sort of good--BUT makes it harder to catch. Great post, Misha! :-)

  11. These little inconsistencies really pull me out of the story. You're right - it's so important to catch and correct them.

  12. I hate it when scenes change so quickly, the only thing worse, like in a movie, is when there are multiple flashbacks.
    Good luck with Doorways.

  13. And characters that never have to pee. Um, sorry...too much caffeine this morning. lol

  14. Inconsistencies can kill the story for me especially if I'm really liking it. Thanks for the reminder to check for these character placement and showing how s/he got from one side of the room to the other.


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