C is for Consistency

by Lillian Csernica on April 3, 2013

C is for Consistency

Whether you’re writing a short story or a novel, the time will come when you rewrite it. Editing a manuscript means making lot of little changes and a few rather large ones. This forces you to read through the story to make sure all those changes line up in correct order.

This is the essence of consistency.

I’ve watched “Moonstruck” so many times I finally caught the mathematical error in the script. There are three references to when Cher’s husband died. They don’t add up to a consistent time frame. It’s not pivotal to the story. Most viewers wouldn’t notice. And yet, now that I know, I haven’t watched the movie since.

Authors who write successful novel series have staff whose specific duties involve making sure the current book is consistent with all previous books. Charlaine Harris has someone do this for the Sookie Stackhouse books. That became very important after Hurricane Katrina hit and Ms. Harris had to address the consequences of all the damage Katrina did in Sookie’s fictional Louisiana.

Good readers pay attention. Good writers respect that.



Filed under Fiction, Writing

13 responses to “C is for Consistency

  1. Wow what a great point about consistency in books especially a series. I get so frustrated with books when things aren’t followed through. I also get crazy when the continuity people aren’t paying attention in movies and TV shows. This is great, Lillian!


  2. I like this Lillian! I’d like to have a continuity editor like they have on films. Mine will be named Edna and she wears glasses on a cord. She is very strict with me but clucks from time to time in a rather motherly way.


  3. celticrob

    Consistency is important. If you’re not consistent as a writer, your readers will get lost. Not many will notice small things; big things are very off-putting. So you’re right lillian; respect your readers; do it right.

    On the other hand, I’ve been told that consistency is the last refuge of the unimaginative. But what does a Bear know, really?


    • There’s a lot of folklore that says bears are wise creatures. I have heard that quotation, “Consistency is the hobgoblin of small minds.” I think that means some people get too caught up in the little details. On the other hand, there’s the quotation, “God is in the details,” so clearly they’re important! 😀


  4. Hi Lillian, thanks for visiting and commenting at my blog.

    I have read your A-Z posts so far and I will come back b/c I see I can learn (or be reminded of) a few things pertaining to writing.

    Do you have all your A-Z ideas picked or are you writing each day’s letter as it comes? I just found out about the challenge on Sunday, so I am scrambling. But I am going to enjoy the daily writing and finding new blog reads like yours.


    • You’re welcome! I’m enjoying the discussion about what to do with worn-out Bibles.
      When I decided to sign up for the A to Z, I brainstormed two lists of words. Then I thought about all I’ve read about making my blog content useful to readers. That’s when I decided to make each day’s letter pertain to a particular aspect of writing. I did start off with my posts written through the letter E. Tonight I plan to write F through K. Given my novel work and the need to spend time with my two sons, it helps to get ahead a bit.


  5. Great post & so true! This is probably why I’m struggling with a sequel I started last year. It’s exhausting to cross-reference everything with the first book to make sure I don’t have plot holes & inconsistencies!! Do you have any strategies to help you in this area?


    • Over the years I’ve established a pattern of going through five drafts before the story or novel is finished to my satisfaction. I type in notes to myself as I go along, pointing out research needs, questions, plot options, and warnings re consistency issues. As I go through editing the manuscript, I remove the notes.


  6. Absolutely. People who take time to read, rather than watch TV, pay attention and are are generally savvy about wordly events or any other matters. It is our reponsibility, as writers, to be accurate and consistent. Not easy, and most times that’s where editors come in.
    I really enjoyed visiting your blog, even if only with a few quick clicks this time around, but will return now that I am a new follower.
    Silvia @ Silvia Writes


  7. Excellent advice. I am doing all 26 posts about the one character.
    I’ll have to be careful of that very thing 🙂


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