Roses are red, her eyes are blue. No green. Wait–they’re amber.
Violets are blue. They’re my favorite flower. No, that’s not right. Daisies are.
This book lacks consistency.
And your readers won’t love you.
Can you guess what today’s Edit Me post is about? That’s right–consistency in books! Have you ever read a book where the heroine’s eyes change color and she does not have supernatural powers? Or the hero was standing in the kitchen and in the next sentence he’s in the barn, and we’ve never seen him move?
Welcome to inconsistent plots, folks. Editors read very carefully to catch things like 3 hands touching a person or a man suddenly having two cocks.
Readers are far from stupid and will catch these errors. They might get confused and have to go back and read a few chapters to see if they are losing their minds. When they discover they weren’t wrong, they get irritated with the author. If the inconsistencies continue, the reader might shut the book completely and never pick it up again.
We don’t want that, do we? When I write, I use a file folder for each book. If it’s a series, i could use a binder or one big folder with a bunch of paperclipped pages for each book inside. Inside this folder is pertinent information about the story. Besides goal, motivation, and conflict, I have tidbits like horse names or offspring. Even the names of football coaches just in case I ever need to reference it. This saves a lot of time, because I’m not searching back through thousands of words for one scene with the hero’s friend. I have his name at my fingertips.
I also use this form in each book. It is a great plot helper, but basically it’s fabulous reference for character descriptions. Character Worksheet-Em P And when you’re filling out cover art forms months after you’ve written–and forgotten–what the characters look like and sometimes even their names, you only need to flip open a file to find it.
When it comes to consistency, you also need to check things like name spellings, names (believe me I see names changing mid-book), car makes, and places. If you have made-up words in a fantasy or paranormal, it’s important to write that down so you’re not spelling it five different ways.
Now that you’ve all read this post, I hope to edit manuscripts with zero consistency issues.