Monday, August 3, 2015

"How did it get so late so soon?" -- Dr. Seuss

What’s the biggest blunder you made in a manuscript, and did you catch it before publication?

by Meredith Cole

My biggest struggle when writing is time. Not just time to write, but the fictional time in my book. I set off with a great idea, the pages pile up, and then I realize I have just created the longest week on record. Or three Saturdays in a row. Or something else that will cause my copy editor a conniption fit. And then I have to find a way to fix it without totally wrecking my book.

I know some people plan out their book on a calendar, but I'm about as successful as that as I am at planning out family events on a white board. We always end up with three different things on the same evening no matter how much we try to plan in advance.

I doubt this is the biggest blunder I made, but I was certainly happy to catch the mistake before publication. I had changed the season in my second book DEAD IN THE WATER from fall/winter to summer. Writing a crime novel set in the summer in Brooklyn was fun. Everyone is hot and crabby, and the smells can be unbearably awful. I had to eradicate various details and I thought I had caught everything at last. I sent it off to my writing group, and one of them sent back a correction. I mentioned casually that a football game was on television, which of course would never happen in the summer. Oops.

And, speaking of summer, I'm at the beach today (not watching football). Wish me luck as I try to do some final edits on a manuscript in a house full of extended family!

6 comments:

Paul D. Marks said...

There's always something, or more, that we miss, isn't there, Meredith. No matter how many times we look it over. Glad your writing group partner caught that one!

Meredith Cole said...

Definitely, Paul! It's a good reason to have trusted readers look over your manuscript before publication...

Art Taylor said...

The good news is that now that hockey playoffs/finals last into summer (seems like) and baseball extends into snowy weather (sometimes, some places), and football pre-season seems to come earlier and earlier... well, you've always got an excuse!

I have trouble with time myself. Know exactly what you mean.

Susan C Shea said...

I keep a running log of the day of each scene because otherwise, you're right: there are 3 Saturdays in one week!

Catriona McPherson said...

Hmm, "I'm at a beach house with my loved ones" is never going to sound like a plight, Meredith.

lisaljohnljc said...

Great question, and luv the Dr. Seuss quote!
I am struggling with this in a short story I'm expanding which jumps around back and forth a lot in time and place. And it gets tricky.
One of my profs suggested using chapter titles to keep things clear, but I'm not sure about that.
Another says to pick one place to ground my protagonist as a jumping off point, then keep coming back to it...
Any thoughts???