Tuesday, April 7, 2015

A to Z Challenge: F is for Flow

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Welcome to April. With its customary showers comes the Blogging from A to Z Challenge. For those who are unfamiliar with it:
The brainchild of Arlee Bird, at Tossing it Out, the A to Z Challenge is posting every day in April except Sundays (we get those off for good behavior.) And since there are 26 days, that matches the 26 letters of the alphabet. On April 1, blog about something that begins with the letter “A.” April 2 is “B,” April 3 is “C,” and so on. You can use a theme for the month or go random – just as long as it matches the letter of the alphabet for the day. (Source) 
The A to Z Challenge is a great way to get into the blogging habit and make new friends. For more details and its history, go HERE 

My theme this year is EDITING

I'll be posting practical advice for editing any story, novel, or other piece of writing. Editing is something most authors struggle with, and after years of doing my own as well as that of others, I have a pretty good eye for what needs work. I'll be doing short posts on editing topics and (hopefully) dispensing simple, valuable advice to help everyone out there self-edit.

F is for Flow!


Also known as continuity or consistence, this is simply making sure that all things in your manuscript line up in a linear, chronological way.

Don't mistake me. I don't mean that the story necessarily has to be told chronologically. The format of your story is a whole different issue. This is for things like making sure that if you say your character is sitting down, they aren't suddenly standing with no explanation in between. 

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So, you're looking for spacial continuity, speech continuity (make sure characters are sliding in and out of accents/dialects), plot continuity (don't say something and then contradict yourself in subsequent chapters) and overall just making sure all plot and character arcs happen smoothly, rather than in a choppy, disjointed manner.

This is something beta readers are wonderful for. It's exactly the kind of thing that the author sometimes is completely blind to. However, I will say that sometimes it's hard for even beta readers to pick up on if, like me, your critique group meets weekly and only reads one or two chapters at a time. 

For continuity, I would recommend polishing the manuscript in every way possible, then giving it in its entirety to either the same group of perhaps a different one. A proofreader perhaps? Reading everything all at once is a much more effective way to check for discontinuity. 

Happy editing!

6 comments :

  1. Both my test readers and critique partners read the story in its entirety.

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    1. Always a good idea, especially where continuity is concerned. :D

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  2. The second biggest complaint I have with bad books are the continuity errors.

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    1. Agreed! There's nothing that more effectively pulls you out of the story. These kinds of errors are just annoying. Thanks Maurice! :D

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  3. Oof. I just worked on this a bunch for my WIP today. I discovered that one of my two MCs didn't do anything for four days, but I could move all his actions from the next week up to those days. It's much better but of course it disturbs the rest of the flow... It's so important though! Worth the work to fix it :)
    ~AJ Lauer
    an A-Z Cohost
    @ayjaylauer on Twitter

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    1. Yeah, you gotta love when you change something and have to re-work the logistics of the entire book. I have a critique partner that had to do that too. She moved a major death from the middle of her novel to the end of it, and it really did make the story better, but she was having to deal with fixing all these kinds of things as well. I agree, though, Definitely worth it! :D

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