Recently, I had a small talk with one author who mostly writes short stories; he is rather skillful in it, so I enjoyed talking with him about literature, writing, and other things referring to authorship. In particular, our conversation turned to the peculiarities of writing novels and short stories. One of the problems we mentioned were the inconsistencies that almost inevitably occur in the process of writing.Often, he said—and I agree with him—it happens in novels, because they are longer than short stories, and it is hard for a writer to keep everything in his or her head. This happens for numerous reasons, but the most important is not why they happen, but how to avoid them. Here are some tips that might be of use to you.
1. Keep records
Create a separate file to record all the details regarding the background of your story. For example, when writing one of my sci-fi novels, I recorded the information about the city where events were taking place in such a file: time of year, occupations of the main characters, names of streets; and so on. It is like a unified design document.
2. Comment on your own writing
In Google Docs, you can find a wonderful function of inserting comments (Ctr + Alt + M). Just highlight the text you need to comment on, and press the buttons. Why is it useful? Because this way you can leave small notes for your future self. I often leave myself reminders like, “Check whether X was a police officer,” or “Rewrite this piece later.” Whenever I get a bright idea during writing, I record it using comments. When you finish writing and start editing, you’ll find these comments invaluable.
3. Do not edit while writing
This may seem obvious, but I know how tempting it can be to fix “just that tiny piece of text.” Once you start, you keep editing until you lose the direction your thoughts you had before. First write, then edit.
4. Keep an eye not just on what you write, but also on how you write
Inconsistency refers not only to logical gaps in plot and to semantic flaws, but also to your punctuation, grammar, and overall writing style. Of course, in publishing houses, there are professional editors and proofreaders, but you don’t want to look unprofessional, do you?
5. Mind maps!
Really, why not create mind maps? It is a great way to track down logical and causative links between events, follow the relationships between your characters, and so on. Also, when you draw a mind map and have it in front of your eyes all the time, you can come up with some unexpected plot twists—because you can see the whole picture.
That is it. Enjoy!
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