When I see continuity errors in movies or TV shows, I chuckle indulgently. When I see them in books, I get a little worked up because they’re easy to avoid.
Whether you’re writing a book that spans a significant period of time or one that packs a lot of action into a few weeks, keeping track of what happens when is very important.
You don’t want to get your dates muddled up.
I know that a lot of writers are already doing this in some form or another, but I’ve seen enough continuity issues in self-published books over the years to know that more writers should be taking steps to avoid continuity errors in their novels. I’ve seen book reviews that complain about these problems, too — and they made me cringe. These issues can be avoided if the writer is just a little more organised.
Say what you will about my books — and some readers really do go all out in their rant reviews — but you can’t say that they contain continuity errors. I’ll tell you how I achieve this.
A lot of my projects end up spanning at least a year. Don’t ask me why. My debut novel, Soulmates Saga #1, is one example. When I started it, I didn’t intend for it to cover such a long period of time, but I kept a record of all the events that took place — and when — in a spreadsheet from the very beginning.
Spreadsheets were such a big part of my day at work and I set one up for my story without really thinking about it.
I made a Calendar for the novel on Microsoft Excel, creating 7x5 tables for each month as I wrote my story. I shaded in the cells/days in which the action took place so that I’d know which days were significant. Using the ‘Add Comment’ feature, I noted down what happened on those days. I also left Comments for events that happened in each month but weren’t written about in the story.
Birthdays, anniversaries, and milestones, whether I wrote about them or not, were all noted in the same way.
It was my first novel as an adult. I wrote it because I couldn’t stop thinking about my protagonists’ story, a scene at a…