Friday, August 24, 2012

Writing: Consistency

Nothing stops a reader and quashes their interest like encountering an inconsistency in a book. Imagine what you'd think if in the first half of a novel the heroine has brunette hair, but she becomes a redhead (without benefit of help from Clairol) in the second half.

One of the ways an author keeps things consistent is through some form of a style sheet. In it are brief descriptions of each character, background notes, and anything else that the writer might need to keep things consistent throughout the book. For instance, here's a character description from my next book, Stress Test:



SANDRA MURRAY—diminutive, aggressive red-headed lawyer in solo practice. (Left large firm because they objected to her Christian principles). Specialist in criminal defense. Single (once “almost” engaged—to Matt’s neurosurgeon—they called it off).  5’4”, petite. Red hair, moderate length. Green eyes. 

Have you run into inconsistencies in books you were reading? Did it diminish your enjoyment? Let me know. 
 (photo courtesy FreeDigitalPhotos.net)

2 comments:

Cindy R. Wilson said...

I run into inconsistencies here and there. It's definitely something I'm not very good at when writing my own stories. Halfway through I forget eye color or hair color, sometimes even names of small secondary characters. My goal with my new story is to take note of these small details as I go so I don't have to keep referring to earlier chapters to remember :)

Richard Mabry said...

Cindy, Just keeping a list on your computer labeled, for instance, Characters, really helps. That way I don't have to search to see the eye color or what kind of car someone drives.
Thanks for dropping by.