Thursday, April 17, 2014

Writing 101: Consistency

When it comes to any type of writing, there's one thing all writers have to be: consistent. With very few exceptions, I post my writing tips to this blog Monday through Thursday, week after week. I do this because I'm consistent. Now I'm going to tell you why you've got to be consistent, too. 

Consistent, Not Boring 

Now, I'm not suggesting that you do things the same way every day or that you write the same book over and over again. When I say be consistent with your writing, I mean it only in very specific ways. 

  • Tense: Don't change tenses. Seriously, do not do this. I've seen many different styles of how this is done and I've never known it to work. Don't change tenses within the same book and don't change tenses from book to book if you're writing a series. Assign a tense to a book and stick with it, no matter which you pick.
  • Tone: If you start a book writing very flowery sentences stuffed with adjectives, you're going to have to maintain that until you get to the final page. Keep your tone consistent throughout. It you write with short sentences, do it. Always allow your voice to shine, because that's what makes your writing unique. 
  • Type: Use the same fonts and styling on every single page of your book. If Chapter 1 is centered, the other 80 chapters (or whatever) have to follow suit. 
  • Characters: Commit fully to your characters. Know who they are and what makes them tick even before you begin writing, because your characters have to be consistent. Characters should learn and grow and develop, but they should also stay true to who they are. They should be consistent (you saw that coming, right?). 
  • Exceptions to the rule: There are, of course, exceptions to every rule. In novels like Push and Flowers for Algernon, the writing style changes very dramatically through the course of the book. This is done for certain reasons, however, in order to illustrate a point about the main characters and the stories themselves. It takes a masterful storyteller to successfully change the style of the story over the course of the book, so don't try to be an exception to the rule right away.

Stay consistent while you're writing the book, and if you're ready to experiment with a new style try that out in your next book. Readers turn away from inconsistency, so commit strongly to the book you're writing and the way you're writing it. Use the next book to start trying something new.

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