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Monday, 31 December 2012

The importance of editing:

Keeping track of continuity
Naomi Rabinowitz

During my 14 years writing for Soap Opera Digest magazine, I was asked many questions about my job, mainly along the lines of, "So, you get to watch TV all day, huh?"

Well, yes, watching the soaps was a big part of my job description, but writing about the shows involved much more than simply watching them. We editors had to keep track of characters, actors and the histories of soaps, most of which were several decades old. We had to worry about everyday editing concerns, such as spelling an actor's name correctly or using "there, their, they're" properly, but we also had to worry about things like how many times a certain character had been legally married to another.

It may sound amusing and kind of unbelievable that we put so much effort into getting our facts straight about a fictional land, but in the daytime world, this was of the utmost importance. If we got the slightest bit of information wrong, we'd inevitably hear from angry fans ... and it put SOD's integrity into question.

The point of me sharing this is that I believe that as much care should be taken into keeping track of continuity when an author writes his or her own fictional work, a novel. Many authors with whom I've worked, worry about making grammatical mistakes; they'll ask me to do a line edit or to check for typos in their writing, but a true edit goes way beyond that. You want your characters to stay consistent throughout. This applies to small details, i.e., if a character has green eyes in the first chapter, don't suddenly write that they're blue unless there's a storyline-related reason that they've changed. If someone's name is spelled a certain way, i.e., a girl's name is "Jen," don't also spell it "Jenn" or "Gen." Pick one and stick to it.

Of course, you need to keep track of bigger details, too. If a character finds a magic sword at the start of a story, it can't be a magic shoe later on. If a certain curse turns people into bugs, this has to stay the same throughout. If a character is cold and stoic, he or she shouldn't suddenly change personalities; the shift should be organic. This is especially important if you're writing a series and these details need to stay consistent from book to book.

A novel may be fiction, but in order for your words to be believable, you need to treat your world with respect and think of it as if it is real. If you put the effort into making your world whole and keeping every detail in place, then your readers will have a much easier time getting lost in the work that you've created.

Revenge of a Band Geek from Bad

Love. Lust. Blackmail. Romance. Revenge. Is finding love worth getting even?

Shy, overweight Melinda Rhodes' sophomore year of high school isn't going so well. Her mother mocks her weight. She spends her weekends holed up in her room making what her friend calls "Freaky eyeball paintings." Her pants split in the middle of school, earning her the nickname, "Moolinda." She then loses first chair flute in band to Kathy Meadows, the pretty and popular mean girl who's tormented Mel for years. 

This is a coming of age tale about finding love, staying on top and staying true to yourself. Is it really possible for Melinda to have it all?

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