You're reading a really good book. The tension is building with the characters, and you can barely put the book down to go to the bathroom. It's the end of June in your literary world, and the heat is blazing on the pages about as much as it is in the weather. To add a little to the stakes (see Pepper's Monday post) the A/C goes out and your characters are miserable. You smile, because you know that author had a good laugh over that.
The chapter leaves off on a hook that makes you want to scream, especially since you REALLY have to pee now, but there is no way you are putting down that book. Then the next chapter starts, and it's the beginning of July. The days go by, and suddenly it hits you.
Where did the 4th of July go? No fireworks, besides of course the ones between your hero and heroine. No picnic, no mention of a celebration. So what ... are the characters anti-USA or something? Geez!
No, more likely, the author was so immersed in the story that they completely forgot about it. Now, as a reader, I personally forgive it. Especially if the story is awesome.
But other readers, not so much. Most likely, this pretend-author would get a bunch of mail pointing out the error, and some would even put it down in disgust. I guess I'm more forgiving.
I DO understand though, how easy it is to forget something like this.
Example: A few months ago, I was editing one of my books and realized how big of an idiot I was. Now, I remembered the holiday, which in this case, was Labor Day, however I also sent my character INTO the bank... and what's worse, I did it later in the afternoon around 5 or so, when a bank wouldn't be open regardless of the holiday.
I felt like such an idiot. How could I do something so stupid, so obvious?
And a better question, what could I do to help prevent this?
We've talked about this numerous times in my local writer's group, and given the holiday weekend, I thought it'd be a timely topic here as well!
What I personally do is use a current calendar and map out my days given the season/time-frame my book is written. This helps me know when I've hit major holidays, when weekends come up, etc.
- Do you have a pregnant woman in your novel? Make sure her pregnancy progresses at the right rate.
- Do you have a child of school age? Make sure they are in school when they should be.
- Do your characters go to church? Make sure you don't have them sleeping in on Sunday for no good reason.
- Does your character work? Keep track of their work schedule so they aren't playing hooky.
Whatever the way, stick to it and be consistent to the calendar.
Your readers will thank you!
Oh, and watch the clock too. Your character shouldn't go from lunch to dinner with zero time having lapsed, and your character shouldn't eat their first bite of food, then put down their fork and say how full they are, unless of course they have an eating disorder!
So, anyone else have an awesome method for keeping time in your novels?
OH! And everyone... have a WONDERFUL 4th of July weekend!!!! ENJOY the fireworks!