I wrote my first book during naptime. I was a new mom; an at-home mom trying to make a go out of a freelance writing career. Lack of time quickly became an issue. When my son was awake, I fed, played and cared for him. It was only during naptime that the laptop came out.
Surrounded by a stack of dirty dishes in the sink and a pile of laundry to ignore, I had less than two hours to write. But first, I had to familiarize myself with where I left off. Enter continuity.
In fiction, continuity is defined as consistency of the characteristics of people, plot, objects, and places seen by the reader or viewer over some period of time.
Remembering who did what when became challenging. I was running on very little sleep and the time crunch was a constant concern. By the time I caught back up, it was almost time to power down. I started creating cheat sheets and it proved monumentally helpful.
Excuse the pun, but I didn’t “nap on the job” and neither should you, so here are my top five tips on continuity:
1. Always keep a pad of paper handy. Write down major details that you can flip to for a quick glance, including character names and descriptions, dates, places, etc.
2. Within your document, boldface crucial minutia (like what hand he held the knife in) for future reference.
3. After each entry, jot down a brief recap, so you can quickly resume during your next writing session.
4. When you actually resume your next writing session, re-read the last page or so, so you can match the tone.
5. When the book is finished, block off a weekend and read it cover to cover. Don’t read it like an author, read it like a reader and you will notice every little discrepancy.
If you are conscientious of continuity throughout the writing process, the editing process will be less cumbersome. “Continue” to be consistent and write on… Both you and your readers will thank you for it.