Today’s guest blogger is Kea Alwang, author of the Based on a Dream series. Book one, Treehugger, is free on Amazon from July 14-16. In this two-part session, Kea shares her experience ensuring continuity across all books in her series.
DARN THOSE DETAILS.
I stylized most of my characters, landscapes, and alien technology on paper years ago, complete with in-depth questionnaires that cover character traits and abilities. Obviously, this is a huge help in reminding me to make sure my characters’ personalities, dialogue, features, and motivations remain consistent from one book to the next–unless they’re supposed to change. And the more three-dimensional you make your characters, the more time-consuming your continuity checks become: Is there a word or facial expression that character favors? Better make sure they use it in Book Two. Are the actions of that character consistent with his/her/its capabilities or background history? No? Well, did you simply forget he was afraid of bugs, or was the motivation for his sudden ability to tackle the giant spider demonstrated earlier in the story when he told the love of his life he would do anything to protect her?
At one point, I spent two weeks adding to my key villain’s back story notes simply because I wanted his motivations to expand past my original expectations. I needed to pause the editing of Risktaker to do more prep work for Book Three. Otherwise, Risktaker would have limited my villain’s capabilities when we (spoiler alert!) see him at his worst in Book Three.
My Advice: Re-read your previous book and take notes of mannerisms, colors, terrains, and traits. (Even if you’ve kept an encyclopedia of sorts, you might have changed something and forgotten to record it, thus leading to continuity errors.) Then be sure you’ve included those details in the next book as you edit. Check them off as you go.
It takes time to make sure you’re not the Typo Queen. Fantasy and scifi authors often bear the burden of creating unusual names, words, and concepts that would send the National Spelling Bee champion running.
My Advice: Add all of those brilliant creations of yours to your spell check dictionary. As well, keep a running list of those words by your side while writing/editing. Note your personal typing inadequacies: Do you constantly type “their” when you mean “there?” Is there no way you could ever spell “rhythm” correctly the first time?
One of the key roles in my series is an organism called the Ethimarrow. I spell Ethimarrow correctly every time. But do you know what happens to the word “organism” when you’re typing too fast? Yeah. Spell check doesn’t correct that. Keep your eyes open for your repetitive faux pas, search for them with Find/Replace or train yourself to slow down for certain words. Hopefully, you have an editor lending an extra set of eyes to your work as well.
I always swore I didn’t have the time and energy to go back to school for another degree. The joke is on me: I think I did more work in the past two years navigating the learning curve of indie publishing than I would have trying to get a degree. But in the end, I’m far better prepared to deal with continuity issues as I tackle Book Three.
So which aspects of writing offered you learning curves you didn’t expect?
Kea Alwang lives in New Jersey building worlds, reading, and indulging in severe caffeine and chocolate addictions. Her podcaster husband, film-obsessed son, book-munching daughter, and self-absorbed parakeet are among those who put up with her unnatural attachment to the keyboard. Despite creating characters who can’t wait to leave this planet, she actually loves the Earth, but wishes bullies and the word moist would just disappear.
The first two books in her series can be purchased on Amazon (Treehugger is free from July 14-16), and you can read more of Kea’s thoughts and musings on her blog and facebook page.