‘How do you manage continuity as you write?’ I was asked recently.
Look something shiny
I’m pretty sure brother-in-law asked that question because he had just sat through one of my rambling conversations. The ones where I start a strain of thought, then get side-tracked as I am reminded of another incident (look – something shiny), and when I finally make it back to the beginning, I’ve forgotten the whole point of the conversation
If you have been there to witness one of those conversations, I apologise. My husband now tells me to stop. Sometimes he starts another conversation over the top of mine, with someone else at the table. I blame his deafness.
Delete is my best friend
For me, the thought process of spoken conversation is different from that written down. When I am writing, I can think about what words to put down on paper or in the word document before I throw them out of my mind. If I want to change what I have written before anyone gets a chance to read it, I will delete, or if I’m writing on paper – scribble out the words or sentences which don’t make sense.
What’s his name?
Forgetting something about the character, a previous scene-setting, or a season change isn’t a problem when writing the first draft. I generally leave notes or mark in red what I need to check. Say I’ve forgotten the name of the café I’ve mentioned earlier. Rather than worry about it or go back searching for it, I’ll write – name Café in red type. This way, I keep the story flowing. If suddenly I remember the setting should now be in winter instead of autumn, I’ll add comments on the side of the word document to remind myself that some aspects of the scene could be affected.
Edit, edit, edit
True, during conversations, I have no idea of how to restrict my thoughts to the one track. Lucky for me, the editing process follows the writing process. Those little reminders I’ve left will be corrected; any final bumps in the continuity will be ironed out when the Beta Readers get to read it.
My mind can be illogical at times. But I know when it comes to continuity in my writing, thank goodness for those scene rewrites and edits.