|Image by Tammy Strobel, via Flickr|
Continuity is equally important in a novel, of course, unless you’re Douglas Adams and have just invented an Infinite Improbability Drive, or Lewis Carroll’s Red Queen.
Part of a copy-editor’s job is to spot inconsistencies and confusions. However, most authors want to present a manuscript containing as few of either as possible. At least, I don’t want to get a manuscript back with problems to be sorted out that involve rethinking and rewriting. It’s not always a simple matter like the colour of a shirt.
I’ve just finished writing a book, my 22nd Daisy Dalrymple mystery and my 57th (I think) novel. Before sending it to my editor, I always print out and do a final read-through—I find it much easier and more accurate to edit on paper than on the screen.
In the course of this “final” edit of Superfluous Women, I came upon one of my characters, Vera, wishing she’d never mentioned something she did not in fact mention. I found myself thoroughly confused by two gardeners and where they lived. And then there’s the Mystery of Two Chapter Twenty-sevens...
One thing I discovered was that two recurring characters, DS Tring and DC Piper, had developed over the course of the series in a way I hadn’t allowed for in the first book, before I knew them well. Once you get the page proofs, the time for extensive changes is past, but Tom Tring made a comment that I just couldn’t let pass. Luckily I was able to change it in a way that wouldn’t mess up the pagination.
I’d made a mistake on page 3 that a reader happened to point out just at the right moment—I had Daisy travelling in a 2nd class compartment of the train. The book is set in 1923, and the railways dropped 2nd class in 1875. Come to think of it, I ought to see if I can get that corrected in the ebook.
Otherwise, the necessary changes were pretty much just typos, though I did think for a while that I had my detectives driving the wrong cars about the countryside. I had to do quite a bit of rereading to sort out that I’d got it right the first time.
Whew! They’re both out of my hands now.
|Carola Dunn is author of the Daisy Dalrymple Mysteries, Cornish Mysteries, and multitudinous Regencies.|