If you’ve read my last few blogs posts (mainly What To Do When You’re Uninspired and 5 Sure-Fire Signs That You’re Procrasta-Writing) you’ll know that I’ve struggled to write anything besides blog posts for the last two months. Some of that has to do the doubt that rears it’s head when starting a new writing project, but the majority of it has to do with consistency.
The lack of having a fictional writing project to work on saw the daily writing habit I’d built up over the last few years fall by the wayside. Sure, I’ve still been churning out a weekly blog post, but what used to take me a good solid day has been happening in little bursts across the majority of the week whilst I spent the rest of my precious writing time invoking procrastinating classics such as the sudden need to clean every room in the house. I’ve been consistently avoiding writing when I should be consistently at my keyboard and working on the one thing I actually miss doing.
So as I push myself to get back into the swing of things, here are some other key areas that can be helped by invoking the ABC’s of writing and making sure C is for consistency.
Consistency With Your Writing Routine
Some writers write daily, some Monday to Friday, others just on weekends. They write sun up to sun down, during the magical hours when children are at school, five am before having to get ready for work, during lunch breaks, the hour-long train ride to and from work, or nine pm to two am when everyone else sleeps. They have a day of the week and a time during the day or night when they can write—and they do it. Everyday. No excuses.
It doesn’t have to be an all-encompassing routine (unless you want it to be), it just has to have some consistency (daily, weekly, monthly) and involve some actual writing (a sentence, a paragraph, a chapter).
Consistency With Your POV (Point of View)
One aspect of writing that really does well with consistency is Point of View. If you write from only one POV then your job is done. If (like me) you prefer multiple points of view, then you need to learn to be consistent with it.
The key to this is to stick to a specific number of different points of view (spoiler alert, it shouldn’t be too many) and to consistency pull off the POV switch. POV should change with a scene or chapter break so the reader knows that they are now reading events from a different character. If you aren’t consistent with this, you’ll risk confusing the reader and the dreaded head hopping between characters.
Consistency With Your Characters
Besides ensuring your characters are consistent in appearance, dress, characteristics, personality, and traits, you can also use consistency to make an impact.
For example, let’s say that you have a character who never takes things seriously. They avoid responsibility, don’t show up for the important things, and they always call the MC by a nickname. It’s consistent throughout the whole book and the reader becomes used to this nickname calling, no-show of a character. Then during a big moment, that character shows up and they call the MC by their actual name! The consistency becomes inconsistent—and the reader takes notice. Consistency with your character has set up an expectation, and when that is shattered, it leaves an impact the reader won’t forget.
Consistency With Your Voice
Writing a book is a big challenge and can go on for years (and years and years), during which time you will grow as a writer. The last chapter in your book won’t be anything like the first chapter or the middle chapters. Your writing voice will vary, especially if you wrote chapter five three years before the epilogue. Inconsistent voice can jar a reader and may be something you don’t even notice because you’re too close to the work. Have a beta reader or friend read your MS and highlight any parts where your writing voice changes. Then, work through the story from start to finish (yes, once again for the millionth time) and focus on making your voice consistent.
Consistency With Writing Mediums/Genres
The final key area applies to those who write for different mediums or genres, and know the value of keeping the consistency within them. If you’re a multi-genre writer then your romance novels are going to be very different in terms of style, voice and plot compared to your sci-fi or murder mystery books. The same goes for writing a book versus a blog post. My blog posts are different in tone and style to my YA novels because that’s what the medium calls for. Just as a freelance writer would adjust their voice for different jobs, learn what you need to bring to each medium/genre, and be consistent with those rules.
— K.M. Allan