I’ve fallen a little behind schedule. A few challenging chapters coupled with a busy week set me back a bit. Time is limited, so it was bound to happen—such is life. And the chapters in question highlighted one of my most significant concerns heading into this—the lack of consistency. But with help from a book I picked up this week, I’ve learned a few tips on how to identify my trouble spots. And most importantly, how to fix them.
Consistency with anything is nigh impossible to maintain over an extended period of time—my manuscript is no exception. Over the six months of writing, I learned countless tips and tricks that helped improve the novel (I think…hope?). It’s a fair assumption that the later chapters have a little more panache than the early ones. But there are also sections in which the writing style changes noticeably from one chapter to the next. In one scene, the dialog might flow gracefully and sound like a real conversation between actual oxygen-sucking humans (yes, I read all the dialog aloud with different voices and inflections). Other parts nearly bore me to sleep with flat speech and wooden character actions.
Not a fan of wooden characters.
Consistency is critical to a story’s success, from the characters’ actions to the time of day the events occur. Confused readers are likely to set the book aside if the story lacks continuity. Like inconsistency, repeating oneself and repetitiveness (did you LOL or laugh out loud?) will drive readers away. Wait! Come back.
I continue to learn. Part of the reason I fell behind this week was due to a new book I picked up (and finished). The time lost was an investment that will pay off immediately. I recommend Self-Editing for Fiction Writers to anyone who has an interest in writing. While its focus lies on self-editing, it is an invaluable resource for the entire writing process. In addition to suggested guidelines to follow, the book provides tangible examples and exercises with which to practice what its authors preach. As you can see in the picture below, I’ve tagged several pages for future reference.
Self-Editing for Fiction Writers
I received the response from the editor of the free edit I won, and it was better than I expected. The reaction was positive—she liked it and wanted to continue reading, which is the goal of every novelist’s first chapter (and every chapter, really). She suggested some changes to help with the flow and to increase the tension. I applied the revisions, and now the opening of the story is stronger.
Though I’ve fallen behind my planned pace, I picked up a tool which I will reference heavily, and I identified one of the most notable weaknesses of the manuscript. I’ll continue to push forward with editing, learning along the way and applying that new knowledge.