Okay, I said I was going to write a series about revisions.
Here’s what I look for as I give a book a final read through.
1) Grinding action to a halt--Read about that HERE
4) Dialogue tags
Today, I’m writing about—Consistency
Here’s how I work on consistency. And keep in mind where technology is concerned, I’m a Neanderthal. Note on the right, the photograph of page one of Black Hills Blessing as I sent it to Barbour. So feel free to tell me your streamlined high tech version of this.
And if you read very carefully, you will find way to get your name in the drawing for a signed copy of Black Hills Blessing.
For a synopsis of this 3 – in – 1 collection of sweet romances, go here.
Consistency. I do most of my brainstorming at night, while I lay awake in an insomniac fugue state. (I don’t know what fugue state means but I’ve been trying to work it into a blog and think this is a good spot.)
So, I brainstorm ‘what’s next for tomorrow.’ I have this image of myself flipping ideas over and over, tossing stuff out, trying things out, moving on, going back. I’m a sort of slow-motion juggler or acrobat twisting my mind around ‘what if.’
Actually I know I’m going to have a good night’s sleep when this works for me. When my mind is rabbitting around bickering with my husband over something he said sixteen years ago or nagging the children or arguing with something someone said on TV, then I’m in trouble. When I can brainstorm, I’m going to get to sleep soon. The fact that my plotting puts me to sleep is a matter best left to professional psychologist and fiction editors.
But it’s at night when I have these brain flashes like-- “I had her head bleeding at the beginning but I never had her wash blood off her face. Where did Adam get a rifle? I didn’t include Betsy in the scene with all the kids. Where is Betsy?
So, this is continuity as I define it. Writing a book, well, there are just a SCAD of words. You just write for pages and pages and pages. And usually the big stuff is there, pretty much laid out. You remember that. It’s the LITTLE STUFF that gets messed up. The fact that Adam, a secondary character, pulls a gun on the bad guys, when I have very clearly said (on the three occasions he’s come up for a few sentences) that he had no gun.
That’s in Petticoat Ranch and that book had been done for YEARS with that scene of Adam and his gun before I finally, one night in bed thought, “Where did Adam get a rifle?”
So, if I have those moments, well, I try not to get out bed. My chances of sleeping go way, way down if I start writing because I find writing to be caffeinated. But I do sometimes get up and write a sticky note and glue it on my computer monitor.
Then, the next time I get the computer turned on, if I’m not at a point in my life where I can deal with Adam and his rifle. . .or the lack there of. . .I type a message to myself across the top of page one.
Across the top of a some of my books right now are these messages:
That which doesn't kill me makes me stronger (I have a joke I'm planning to tell using this line)
It is May
Emmy’s slightly younger brother Marcus And Ahway(Doba's son) come. She’s good on a trail.
Rope around Gabe’s waist? Belt/Lasso?
Pet name for Shannon.
Tyra had three older brothers who had struck out on their only after they realized Pa was too stubborn to move aside and let one of his sons be a real partner. But now Pa was aching in his joints and he got tired a lot faster. He’d lost a lot of his love of the ranch when Ma had died. She was buried in a quiet grave along with two little sisters. Pa was ready to let a son-in-law in, Tyra just knew it.
Bucky, brown hair, blue eyes. After his mother.
Seven sons; Abraham, Bartholomew, Canaan, Darius, Ephraim, Felix, Gabriel
He wants a woman like his mother and to prove himself to be dependable to her.
Shannon is exact opposite of his mother, not a ranch wife. City girl.
Hosteen Tsosi, wife Hozhò Tsosi (I’ve left off the dash`)
Gabe left home at seventeen. Ten years in the cavalry. Cowboy Christmas set in 1880. Gabe is 29 in this book.
Describe Shannon better. Dimple in chin. . .dent that looks like God had rested his finger lightly on her chin when he created her. Give Gabe the quirk of touching her chin.
Get to scene with brothers and Bucky. Maybe Bucky before they get to Kinlichee
Rework villain’s motives from 37 on. . .done to there.
Shannon’s mother--Giselle Campbell Fontaine Father--Dysart Professor Delmer Dysart. The Delmer had been twisted into Delusional
Create brothers for Gabe.
Would be fiancée for him. Tough Texas rancher daughter for Gabe. Sets out with several of her brothers to find Gabe and drag him home. She likes the idea so she’s in but NOBODY pushes her around. Ruthless, tough, but not stupid, not evil. Perfect woman for Bucky. Tyra Morgan. Lucas Morgan-Tyra’s pa
What does Tyra look like? Tyra shook her head so hard she whipped herself in the face with her single long dark braid. Blue eyes, same color as Maddy’s.
Go on about families
Bucky-Chatillon- He was a guide and hunter for the American Fur Company of St. Louis in the 1840's before settling permanently in the area with his second wife, Odile Delor Lux. Chatillon served as a guide for Francis Parkman, Jr. in 1846. Parkman wrote about their trip in his book "The Oregon Trail."
I will often have up to two pages of these notes at the top of a book document and when I feel like I've fully solved whatever issue the note is a reminder of, I delete the note. And also cry quietly with joy for a brief time to have one more thing perfected in my work. (joke)
One of the reasons I’ve battled consistency issues is because I wrote books that weren’t connected, then I rewrote them into a series. So, I may have needed to age a child but forgotten to because it's now book #2 in a series and I made that child have some small part in book #1.
I may have had one girl acting like a 12 year old, then a 16 year old, then a 12 year old again. This is partially because this character, very minor, was written with years between her creation and the finished book and I simply don’t remember how old I made her.
So, that’s my hint for consistency. Make notes to yourself at the top of the manuscript. I’m keeping a character chart now, I stole Myra’s from HERE. Buy her book Autumn Rains HERE.
But I still have details, like 'are the bad guys after a gold mine or lost treasure', and I need to remember I changed my mind about that and need to commit to that detail as I revise.
That's it. That's my hint.
One better drawn on the cave wall, but it’s my system.
Now for the book drawing. To get your name in the drawing for a signed copy of Black Hills Blessing, please leave a comment about the biggest goof up you’ve ever found in a book. It sets my teeth on edge, that part where Scarlett was in Atlanta in one chapter, then in Chicago making pizza, then back in Atlanta, stuff like that. Have any of you got any? Uh, might be best not to name names.
I found one in Calico Canyon where Grace is eating a biscuit made into a sandwich by putting an egg in it. Then the egg is gone. Then it’s back, then it’s gone. Very odd, really. Follow the bouncing egg. I think we’ve got them all fixed now for the re-release of Calico Canyon in a big ol’ book containing all three books from the Lassoed in Texas series. That’s coming in September. We’ll talk more about it then.
Again, no names. Unless it’s Ruthy, you can make all the fun of her you want. She likes that and always thanks me privately when I do it to her. (that’s a joke, there are no mistakes in Ruthy’s book, it is perfect. Buy it HERE)