For some time now I’ve wanted to post on this but I haven’t had the chance, time, or opportunity. Today has proved to be the day for it and I’m glad.
An author I follow and have exchanged emails with posted the very thing I’ve wanted to address. The dreaded bible. No, not the holy work. The one you should be keeping for your own novels.
You see, I know well that some of you out there are the kinds of writers who like to fly by the seat of your pants. And while that’s all well and good, not to mention great for your imagination, it’s not very wise to keep your audience straight. While you may run a straight course your characters tend to be forgetful. What do I mean? Well, for example, when is your protagonist’s birthday? Do you know it? Did you write about it once? How about this, do your side characters know your pro’s birthday? Ah, now there’s the rift!
Dates are just as important in literature as they are in real life. Don’t believe me? Let me show you. Say you are reading a novel about a teen in school. It’s her senior year. There is no way you would leave out holidays, breaks, and certainly not prom. So you’ve read all about her story, her adventure, and yet no one has called on account of her missing so much school? Her friends don’t miss her? What about that girl down the street who wants to stop by and check on her?
You need a bible when you write. What about someone with children and they suddenly work for weeks on end, even taking a business trip? Where are their children? Did he forget he had them?
When you drop something that important from your novel your audience WILL notice! I read a series of novels where the writer’s lead had an aunt who cared for her in the beginning of the first novel. SHE NEVER WAS SEEN AGAIN. Bible.
Did your character do some tasks in a specific order? Say it’s a mystery and the order of events is crucial to their solving the crime. But you’ve forgotten! So what do you do? You want to scroll back and reread through that much material to find it? No. Bible.
Keeping a running list is not bogging yourself down with another have to. It is a way to stay on the same page, sort to speak, as your audience. So the ‘listers’ do have one thing to their name, along with many others, that makes perfect sense.
It may seem trivial, but keeping the babies birthdays, or even birth order, correct does matter to your readers. Someone always notices and will let you know. Just don’t forget, they are your fans and what you do matters to them. It also helps you not to see a mass produced, mass printed mistake.
Have a good one!