They kissed – end of scene; Next scene they are sharing breakfast the following morning. Sounds familiar? Of course it does – at least to many of us at a certain age. Older movies and books left a lot to our imaginations.
That was okay then; we were used to it and easily filled in the rest. We never worried about the missing parts. Now, however, things are more explicit in both films and books. There are more details and we look for explanations and accuracy. We no longer find “plot holes” acceptable.
I recently found this opening sentence at the beginning of a chapter in a book I was reading: “After his trip he stopped to pick her up for dinner.” What trip? On prior pages, the author never bothered to let the reader know this man had taken a trip somewhere. A minor flaw, perhaps; none-the-less, it stopped the flow of my reading.
Similarly, there are often problems with numbers – especially, the right numbers! I am no mathematician, but I’m fanatic about matching ages and dates when I read a book. Ages can be tricky, and keeping a family tree in a novel that includes various generations is handy. In a book – written by a fairly well known author – I was informed early on that the main character was born in the year of the Pearl Harbor attack – 1941. This was fine until he celebrated his 40th birthday during one of the 1976 Bicentennial celebrations. Couldn’t have – he was only 35 years old at that time!
While I may dismiss a few grammatical errors, and even read past them, it is hard to overlook inconsistent dates and events. That is where a good editor comes in. At a conference, sponsored by the North Carolina Writers Network, I had the pleasure of listening to a lecture by two experienced editors. They pointed out many common mistakes made by writers – especially new writers – and gave us a list with most of the common pitfalls. Prior to this event, and before writing my own novel, I considered the price of hiring of an editor quite high. After listening to the presenters and looking over my own work, I decided they were worth every penny.
If you cannot afford an editor, or are lucky enough to be married to one, at least have several friends or good acquaintances (preferably English teachers) look over your work; and ask them to be very honest and critical. In return, they might just settle for a lunch out and an autographed copy of your finished book.
Heidi Thurston’s novel “The Duchess, the Knight and the Leprechaun” is available on Amazon and Second Wind Publishing.