I’m glad I was never arrogant enough to criticize a writer for a continuity error (well, at least not before buying it in the bookstore), because I’m starting to think they’re even more sneaky than I suspected. I can’t believe I used to think I was good at keeping continuity errors from invading my book. Yeesh. I’ll be lucky if there aren’t any continuity errors at the end of this blog post.
See, I edit in passes, looking for specific problems like word usage or plot holes or whatever. When I find an issue, I fix it, and like a butterfly flapping its wings across the world, it can bring with it disastrous consequences. For example, I redid one section where the main character’s purpose just didn’t seem logical. I was of course aware that this important plot point resonated throughout the rest of the book and made sure to fix subsequent chapters, but…did I get everything?
I think I did, but it’s easy to get versions of the book mixed up in your head. And it’s not something that can always be caught by a beta reader, either. As useful as they are, the story’s continuity is on my shoulders. That’s why I’m starting to make notes of every change I make, and any issue that might get mixed up in my head, in a list titled “REMEMBER”. Remember how she lost her bracelet, remember that he is left handed, etc. etc. etc.
Continuity errors: AKA I edited the book out of order, so sue me.
Writer question time! How do you keep details, major and minor, straight in your head? And how do you find continuity problems while editing?