Do you remember the time?

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Writing a book is a long process, and I’m not even counting prior research, making time lines or edits.  Most authors can take several months to years to finish a novel (with maybe the exception of the lovely Hannah Moskowitz , who has super human powers to complete writing a novel in the blink of an eye). In that time period, it’s not unusual to forget all the little details that went into the beginning of one’s work.

As I was doing a read through of Tears of a Clown, I found several mistakes of that nature. Seems like her step mom had a sudden name change half way through the book. Oops. Also, Jazz’s car was originally blue. I guess the next time I wrote about her in a car, I decided she was such a spunky kick ass kind of character that she needed something shiny and red! Then there were the two instances where my fingers just betrayed me and typed Chaz’s name as Chris. I don’t know what brought that on…but I don’t think it’s unusual to find those little issues. While you may keep your character descriptions, it’s impossible to have lists for all the little details you add in. That’s what editing is for anyhow, to catch those discrepancies.

Here’s the other time related issue I find I’m running into, the actual passage of time and days in my writing. While I could, and should, keep a graph of sorts to remind me of when a day has gone by in storyland, that doesn’t help with the actions that happen during that day or night.  I  find myself re-reading things and thinking “Wait…did enough time pass for him to get upstairs, change into those skimpy running shorts and lift enough weights to get that sexy light sheen of sweat going on?” As the author, we know where the story is going and how we want it to get there (most of the time) so I think we sometimes just write and write without stopping to think about things like “did I leave enough time for her to get to her locker and class before the bell?” and “is it safe for him to come to the door so soon after her folks left? Maybe they aren’t even half way down the road yet!”

I think we get a little leeway because it is a book, but I wonder if people really do stop and think about that stuff. I mean if it’s blatantly impossible, like someone getting from one side of the state to the other during a 5 minute conversation, then yes, I think people will call the author out on that,  but the little stuff? I have a feeling most people will skip over the slight improbability factor. What says you fellow readers and authors?

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8 responses »

  1. HA! I was wondering what was up w/ Chris. But the things w/ Jazz, I didn't notice. Nor did I wonder if enough time had passed for Judd to work up a sweat.

    I know when I write, I do worry about stuff like that but when I read, I don't analyze the story that way. I think most readers, who are reading to enjoy, probably don't either. Of course, I'm sure there are the exceptions, people who pick up on the tiny details like that. I just know I'm not one of those people.

  2. heh I was reading through and stopped…”Who the hell is Chris?!?” stupid fingers! hehe

    OK I'm pretty much like you, unless it's in the realm of the totally unbelievable, I most likely won't notice such details either. I was just unsure if others do or not.

  3. I usually notice stuff like that (unfortunately I don't catch it as well in my own writing). But if I am enjoying the story I just move on. Being a writer I know all writers are human.

  4. I tend to do a bit a speed reading for a first run through of a book (just about everything I own gets at least 2 reads)so I might not catch it the first time around.

    When beta reading, I tend to notice it more often because I'm specifically looking for issues.

  5. I notice it in books I read, and tend to get thrown out of the story if it happens….which is why I sweat the details. Fortunately, beta readers and editors are perfect for pointing out this sort of thing 🙂

  6. Good to know there are definitely those who are effected . That will help me keep my eye out for those kinds of things while in edit mode.

  7. My wife would catch every one of them. When she read the first draft of my last book, I spent a week on revisions to correct timeline issues. Some were minor. But a few were major. Also, in one chapter, I left a secondary character out completely, and he was crucial to the scene!

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