Avoiding Continuity Problems

Writing a novel takes time-it’s not accomplished overnight.  For many of us, it may take several months and this can lead to problems in the storyline. To put it simply – we forget the little stuff. The lack of continuity can ruin a good story simply because the inconsistent details become a distraction too big to ignore.  

Ex: The heroine was walking to her car – however, when she arrives – it has become a truck.  It’s a little thing but it takes the reader out of the moment.

While each of us has a different writing process, there are things we can do to minimize the lack of continuity in our stories.
1.  Besides outlining or storyboarding, consider a timeline.  Timelines are a great way to “see” the story as it unfolds.  Although, there are timeline creators available for download, I prefer to make my own. I tend to get pretty detailed – time/dates, character introductions & events (major and minor).  For quick reference, I add things like daily schedules on the side.
2.  Know the setting.  Whether your setting is fictional or not, you must familiarize yourself with the layout of the town, spaceship, etc.  Take the time to draw a map – labeling streets, buildings, corridors, etc.
3.  Know the characters.  Create a character biography sheet detailing everything:  physical description, birthday, likes/dislikes, hobbies, family/friends, quirks, and important events that have impacted the character’s life.
 4.  Know your objects.  If your character has an iPhone at the beginning of the story, he needs to be an iPhone in chapter 5.
5.  Keep track of time:  Make sure that the weather matches the time of year. 
6.  Read & Revise.  A story is fluid – taking shape as it progresses.  There will be times when ideas & characters appear and BAM! the story takes an unforeseen turn.  Don’t just insert the idea/character and move on.  Look at your timeline, outline, storyboard, lists, etc. –  then fix the problem. 
By taking the time to create reference lists, we can minimize the occurrence of story inconsistencies.

Cooking Up Creativity

“There are always flowers for those who want to see them.” ~Henri Matisse

flowerIf creativity was a plant, then inspiration would be its flower.  Just like with a plant, our creativity must be cared for – watered, fertilized, pruned and sometimes, repotted.  As writers, we do this in a variety of ways. Some of us look to nature – we may go for a walk, watch a sunset, or listen to the rain.  Others may focus on something artistic – like painting, scrapbooking, or music.
But what if our tried and true methods don’t work and we are stuck with writer’s block? Do we shake our fists in frustration? Or do we wait for our muse to take pity on us?
We might try to incorporate our writing into our daily lives.  Think about the setting of the story.  Where does it take place?  What stands out about the location?  Think about the smells, the tastes…  Could preparing your main character’s favorite meal put you in the right frame of mind? What are you waiting for?  Break out those pots and pans!
Now, this isn’t my character’s favorite dish – but it’s one of mine. 
 Hope you enjoy!
Mexican Chicken Casserole
1 – 10 oz pkg of Vigo yellow rice (Cook as directed)
1 onion, chopped
1 stick butter or margarine
1 can Cream of Mushroom Soup
1 can Cream of Chicken Soup
1 can of Rotel
1/2 lb Velvetta cheese
1 chicken, boiled and deboned
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Boil and debone chicken, pull into small pieces and lay in the bottom of 9×13 pan. Cover with the cooked rice.  Melt butter in pan and add other ingredients.  Heat until cheese melts, stirring frequently. Pour over rice. (Make sure the sauce seeps through the rice to reach the chicken.)  Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes.


My Favorite Writers Resource

In the beginning was an idea – an idea that would eventually become a story. After plucking away on my keyboard, pouring my heart and soul into what I was sure was going to be literary gold, the truth bit me on the butt – and none too gently, I might add.   My emotional masterpiece wasn’t a masterpiece at all.  Why? Because my readers didn’t connect to the emotion of the scene.   Sure, they knew what the emotions were – because I did a good job telling them.  But by saying how my characters felt, I did a disservice to my readers, my characters and my story.

Readers connect with characters they can relate to – characters that “do” things – like hunching their shoulders when they are tired or picking at their clothes when they are nervous.  And this was the part of my problem.  I was really good at saying the character felt blah, blah, blah.  But that made for a mediocre reading experience.  By showing how the character felt – using body movements, etc – the scene was transformed.

There are some really good sources to help us as we journey along our writing path.  One of those sources is a favorite website called Writers Helping Writers. Becca Puglisi and Angela Ackerman are the masterminds behind this site and if you haven’t visited – then click on the above link. You’ll love it.

Their book, The Emotion Thesaurus has become one of my favorite tools.  When I get stumped on how to effectively show a certain character’s expression, I turn to this book. The thesaurus offers ideas such as physical signals, internal sensations and mental responses.  It not only saves time but helps alleviate frustration.    

What resource have you found that has helped you with your writing?  


The Reasons Why

Sometimes, no matter how inconvenient, a character appears and refuses to leave.  That was the case with Britney Brown and Michael Stevens.  They showed up and insisted on sharing their story.  I tried to give them the brush them off – but it did no good. They became a distraction I could no longer ignore.  I was hesitant when I realized their story wasn’t going to be popular with some people.  But that’s life – it’s not simple.  In fact, it can be confusing and painful.   The Reasons Why is their story.


Choosing the cover:

I visited several sites but when I found Linda Kage, I looked no further. There was something about this picture that tugged at my heart.  It seemed to capture Britney and Michael’s relationship.

E-Book Formatting:

I tried to format the e-book myself.  It might have been easier if I would have used something other than Word.   After several attempts – and not being satisfied with the preview, I choose to pay someone to format it for me.  If you haven’t checked out Fiverr, give them a look.  I found an ebook formatter that had a 5 star rating.   Not only was the process easy, it was inexpensive.

The Reasons Why is a New Adult Contemporary Romance.  At approximately 25,500 words, it’s perfect for a poolside read and is available for Kindle Download.


When Claudia Brown and Marcus Stevens married, they never imagined their love would turn their children’s lives upside down but that is exactly what happened. For Britney and Michael, navigating the terrain of their new family is like walking through a mine field of emotions as they try to ignore their growing attraction. One false move and everything could blow up.


Bad Review or Bad Reviewer?

What has happened to civility?  It seems to be running in short supply.  Politicians have become experts at delivering stinging comments to their colleagues all in view of the ever present cameras. Bullying is commonplace – and its not limited to children and teens. It seems as though, in a day of media excess, offensive behavior has become acceptable.

This behavior is carrying over to book reviews.


thumbs downI am on a mailing list for e-BookSoda and BookBub.  I receive emails promoting books everyday. Before purchasing/downloading a book, I typically read the reviews. I’m always struck by the range of opinions. I guess there is truth in the saying – One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.


Recently, I read a one star review – I understood that the reviewer didn’t care for the story.  I was floored however, when she ended her assessment with the comment that the book might be an excellent read for someone who liked this particular genre.  Really?  So why only one star?

Another reviewer (different book) was nothing short of catty.  Curiosity got the best of me – so I looked up her other reviews – she must have had the absolute worst luck when choosing reading material.  I mean, honestly, what’s the chance of finding 19 books out of 30 that are so horrible they only deserve one star?

I’m not saying that reviewers should lie.  Obviously, not everyone will connect with a story. I’m suggesting that as readers, we should consider how much weight we want to give any particular review.


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