CONSISTENCYA Lesson by Domenic Luciani
because it's important to maintain your style.
There comes a time when every writer takes a break. Now, when I say 'break' I don't mean an hour or two while you go grab some lunch. I mean right smack in the middle of the most profoundly entertaining novel you've ever been inspired to write, you walk away for a month, two months, a year.
What I'm getting at here, is not that you have to keep yourself writing, because that's another lesson entirely. No, what I'm talking about here is what happens during that stretch of time where you abandon your work. You change. You change as a person and you change as a writer. This change isn't always for the best; sometimes you have the gift and you lose it or get rusty. It's a sad moment when you realize you're not as good as you used to be, or not as driven.
Focusing on your work here, when you return to it, you may just pick up where you left off. This is a no-no. The way I can best describe this is with a personal example. I am left handed and have a tendency to turn my paper when I write and take notes with a pen or pencil. My writing will start off with smooth, cursive, upright lettering. As I go on and the subject matter that I have to write about changes, my paper turns a little more and my handwriting becomes quick and jagged, but most of all very slanted. Sometimes I end up writing with my paper a full 90 degrees to my body.
What happens in writing is that your style will change given enough time. That stretch of time varies from person to person, but eventually the you who wrote those first three chapters last week is not the same you who wrote the next three chapters. There's something noticeably different, tangible even. To a writer looking to be published, this is not your worst nightmare, certainly, but it is definitely a bad dream. Editors look carefully at the consistency of your style, as do publishers. If your writing to be published, your finished work needs to look like you wrote the whole thing in one sitting.
This is not easy. Not by a long shot. You may think you have your consistency down, but chances are, there will be slight differences from chapter to chapter--things no non-professional would be able to catch. That's why it's important to find a legitimate editor to look at your work, not your friends or your family.
What do you do? There is no sure fire way to guarentee that your work will be 100% consistent. It is entirely up to the author to ensure this. But my advice is to construct a skeleton. Now, what is a skeleton? A skeleton is a body of writing that is the bare minimum of writing. An entire novel should have around ten pages max of a skeleton. There is no detail, there are is no character depth, and there certainly is no dialogue. There is only the bones to be built off of. Really, it should look more like notes then a summary of your book. Character A does this and this happens. Character B does this because that happened. This happened. That happened. Nobody ever needs to see this so write down only what will help you. It shouldn't take much time, so do it before you start any work. Once you have the skeleton, make the mannequin. There is skin, there are features, but there is no personality. At the mannequin stage you have detail, plot, dialogue, but no depth. It's a structural foundation so that you can build off your novel no matter what stage of the game you're at. The mannequin is your safety net should you abandon a project and return to it months later. In this process, instead of writing a novel from start to finish, you can build it from the center out: adding layers until the final product gleams like a brand new car.
It is up to you to be consistent. The most I can do is bring up the issue so that you go back through your work and make sure of it yourself. It is imortant, so do not blow it off.
Any questions, you know what to do.
Added on February 22, 2012
Last Updated on February 22, 2012
AboutThat is my real name, and that is really me in the picture. Like Patrick says, I'm not in the witness protection program. I mostly write books and stories. I like fantasy, or fiction, but if..