Oh, The Inconsistencies!


We’ve all read a book where the details don’t quite jive. A character’s car was blue in Chapter 1, but in Chapter 15 it somehow becomes red. Or a conversation is taking place in the kitchen on one page, but then jumps to the living room on the next with no reference to movement. As a reader, you wonder why the writer couldn’t remember to keep that car blue or stick with a scene setting, but keeping track of all that stuff is incredibly difficult.

Just recently I was talking to another writer who equated fiction writing to basically telling one big lie. When we lie, we have to remember every detail or the lie loses credibility. Fiction works the same way – to make it believable everything has to be perfectly aligned. When writing an 80,000 word novel, this is tricky business as writers are essentially telling a big lie over an extended period of time. It’s easy to forget a minute detail that was created and written three months ago.

The revision process helps in aligning details, but it’s inevitable that a few details will fall through the cracks. This is where an editor comes in handy! Especially, a sharp-eyed editor with an ultra sensitive radar. Lucky for me, nothing gets by my editor.

Even though I’ve read my novel draft a hundred times, a few inconsistencies still slipped into the fourth draft. How on earth does that happen? Easy. As a writer, I get so caught up in creating a scene, I’ll forget what I did in a previous section. Sometimes, I just can’t let go of that scenic tunnel vision!

After reading two thirds of my edited manuscript, my editor has pointed out the following issues I need to resolve:

  • a random dog that shows up in the beginning of the novel, but is never seen again
  • inconsistent use of noise canceling headphones, i.e. my character owns them in one scene, but not in another
  • emotional gap from one chapter to another, i.e. a character feels one way about another character in one chapter, but the emotion doesn’t carry through to the next chapter.

The last third of my novel includes the most “rewritten” mythology, which means the propensity for inconsistency is going increase tenfold. Instead of simply telling one big lie, I am telling two. Somewhere along the way, I’m sure there is a hole in the fabric I have woven. Thankfully, I have faith my editor will find it before a reader does.

– – –

c.b.w. 2014


9 thoughts on “Oh, The Inconsistencies!

  1. Rita Ackerman

    It is so hard to remember everything. Even timelines and all those tools can’t catch it all. Glad you were able to find such a great editor.


  2. While I have not gotten to the point of an actual whole novel, or need of an editor, I totally know what you mean. You wonder how that got there or why you put that in and you are so glad when someone catches it. I guess it’s just all part of the process that most people do not understand. Loved this post, by the way.


      • Isn’t it funny how the smallest but largest things get missed? I had something I was reading of my own recently and I finally went, “that doesn’t belong!” So easy to miss things like that. Happens in movies all the time and people go around like, that spoon was in the bowl a second ago now it’s in the drawer.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. That’s the perfect way of describing it: one big lie. It never seems to matter how many details are in the journal or posted notes are stuck to the computer screen. There’s bound to be some detail that slips through. 🙂


  4. Do you remember why the dog appeared or what the dog,s purpose was when you first wrote it into the scene? I think the most amazing thing about being able to write the “big lie” is actually creating the back story of every character and situation. Even tho none of it may appear in the story, you as the author must remember all of it so the forward motion will make sense. Not to wonder that a few inconsistencies show up. I hope that they are giving you at least a bit of a giggle.


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