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Today's post is from author Mara Ismine marasmine who talks about being an unashamed detail freak :).


Hi everyone,

There's a giveaway chance at the end!

Normally I don't have a problem blathering on about almost any subject. So here I am with a free pass to spread the blathering all over Clare's blog and can I pick a subject? No, of course I can't.

So it'll not only be blathering, but unconnected blathering on different subjects. You have been warned!

I finished the first draft of a novel in November after a couple of years poking at it and should have spent December in edits because there are several continuity errors that I know are there (a backpack moves between two bedrooms and is always in the wrong one even when it has been put in the right one) and probably even more that I haven't spotted yet, not to mention the typos. Did you spot the 'should have'? I did do a bit of editing, but the holiday season, and work, interfered and I still have a long way to go.

I tend to be a bit of a detail freak and continuity errors can throw me right out of a story when I am reading. I end up searching for proof and going back through what I've already read to see if the error is in the writing or just in my reading. Most of the time the detail isn't that important - it doesn't really matter if the bathroom door is on the left or the right, does it? Unfortunately to my brain it does matter and I will fret about things like that.

Of course some continuity errors do matter very much. Those would be the really big ones where a character or situation changes dramatically and I've read enough of those, including mine, to irritate me immensely.

I do have a lot of sympathy for authors who write themselves into a corner - I know just how it feels - but you can't just change the rules of a story to get out of a sticky corner. And all stories have rules, even if just those that the characters live by. If a character has strong beliefs - about what is right or wrong, religious doctrine, morals, or anything else that gives them a line in the sand that they won't cross - then if they do decide to cross that line for love the decision should be explained and take more than five seconds.

That sounds simple enough, but it is not so simple to do. My characters are particularly uncooperative when I give them some trauma or strong belief that makes it difficult for them to accept the relationship the story is building and they tend to just roll over when it comes to the crucial point and be sensible.

"Just because I've always been irrationally terrified of small birds, doesn't mean that I can't move in with X and his collection of rare finches that live in his bedroom; being scared of small birds is silly so I will get over it right now because I love X."

"Just because my life has been dedicated to rare finches and an innovative captive breeding scheme doesn't mean I won't get rid of all the birds and work with rabbits instead. I know Y is terrified of the birds and I love Y."

Romance isn't about being sensible; and getting over an irrational fear 'right now' isn't a satisfactory solution, neither is getting rid of the birds. This is a silly example, but I'm sure you've come across something similar in your reading.

I always feel cheated when an author uses something like that to produce a happy ending. Most of the enjoyment of a romance, for me, is seeing how the characters will get to that happy ending in a believable way. For X and Y a more satisfying ending (for me) would be if they acknowledged the problem, didn't move in together just yet and worked on a compromise - X could reduce the number of birds he keeps at home, particularly in the bedroom; Y could work on his fear, with professional help if necessary, and try to tolerate a single bird in the room before working his way up to a flock.

I've always hated the love triangle in the King Arthur myths because there is no way to resolve it within the rules of the courtly behaviour that is the backbone of the story. All three of them suffer, even in the most creative of rewrites. The only way you can offer them a happy ending is to transport them to a modern setting or a fantasy world where threesomes are acceptable. But those solutions still feel like cheating even when done very well. Obviously I'm not the only one to worry about Art, Gwen and Lance!

Modern writers aren't so bound by those restrictions of duty and are expected to plan for a happy ending. But sometimes they still fall afoul of the requirements of duty and paint themselves into one of those sticky corners. Can you tell I read one like that this year? I wasn't happy with the about face of the duty-bound character - in fact I was spitting angry about it - so I won't risk buying another book by that author.

This has been rather negative so far and I've had a bit of a rant about what turns me off stories, so maybe I should try talking about what keeps me turning the page and coming back for more.

That is a lot more difficult to define because I don't analyse my enjoyment as closely as my dissatisfaction. A good story will draw me in with distinct characters and fast paced action and I will become so lost in the story that I can't stop reading and don't notice typos, wrongly used words or continuity errors. When I find an author who can do that I will devour their back list and whine for more.

See? Not a lot of detail about what or why I like something. Need I mention that Clare is one of those authors? :)

May you all find new-to-you authors in 2012. Happy reading!

And because this is supposed to be a bit of promo for my writing you can check out my Goodreads page HERE.

A random commenter will get a free copy of my Christmas story The Joy of Christmas Shopping.
(winner to be announced at the end of the month, so keep following the blog!)

Happy New Year from


From Clare:
Like to stretch your writing fingers after Christmas' excesses? Fancy writing something for the visitors this month? It can be anything from a flashfic 3 sentences to a drabble of 100 or so, or even more. Any genre, any theme, any rating, any character(s). Maybe ones you already love, maybe the chance to try on a new character for size.

I'm holding a FREE FICTION DAY on the 28th, so send me new fiction - links to your existing work also welcome! - to clarelondon11 AT yahoo.co.uk and I'll post it all then :).


FOLLOW the Birthday Blog so far:
Jan 01: luscious_words shares some fabulous icons.
Jan 02: Jordan Castillo Price shares her experience of re-releasing books.

Check up on: Prior years fun HERE and
The 2012 Guest schedule HERE.

Want to join in but missed the original call? Email me at clarelondon11 AT yahoo.co.uk and I'll happily find you a space ♥

NOTE: most pictures chosen by me and credited where known, others may be used without direct permission, please contact me with any queries/concerns.



( 22 comments — Leave a comment )
Jan. 3rd, 2012 11:45 am (UTC)
I'm with you all the way, Mara. Internal logic, people acting in character (and acting like they did last time for a series) is vital.
Jan. 3rd, 2012 10:25 pm (UTC)
I thought I'd be preaching to the choir! :)
Jan. 3rd, 2012 12:33 pm (UTC)
I'm a writer. Continuity is important. I'm working on a story right now and am about two-thirds of the way through. I stopped to go back and re-read/edit part 2 and found I'd somehow switched foreign countries between point A and B. Nepal became Tibet!

I've decided to blame it on the holiday and work distraction. :)

Details matter. I notice when things aren't right so I expect the reader will, as well.
Jan. 3rd, 2012 10:30 pm (UTC)
Tibet and Nepal are fairly close - sort of - and you spotted it! Good luck with the rest of it.

I have to make notes about anything that gets novel length and have character lists; unfortunately I neglected to do that with the one I just finished and part of my editing is compiling the notes I should have done at the time of writing. I have to check if a waitress (minor character) is Shirley or Sharon and make sure she stays one or the other.
Jan. 3rd, 2012 10:59 pm (UTC)
Find/replace in Word is a real time saver. Whoever invented that, THANKS! LOL
Jan. 4th, 2012 01:06 am (UTC)
I'm even more impressed since I found out how to make it replace punctuation and other formatting marks. It is my second favourite after the magic Undo button.
Jan. 3rd, 2012 12:34 pm (UTC)
Nothing makes me crazier than a character who was naked, then five minutes later took off his pants. WTF? Are these magical pants that just reappear at random intervals? What's up with that? I also read a story where he went to the bus station to run away, then later it was said they found him at the train station. Umm. No, I was there with him, it was a bus station where you found him.

I get that some authors write out of sequence. Maybe the scene discussing the train station was written first with the INTENT of having him leave via train and for whatever reason when the run-away scene was written it was changed to bus station, but SOMEONE has to read that through and notice that. I did.

I also tend to be a bit anal about dates. It has to be at least close. Don't say it's been two weeks, then discuss "last night". So yeah, I know some people really don't notice such things, but I will notice that your backpack sprouted legs and made its way to another room and I too have gone back to see if I missed something by reading too quickly.
Jan. 3rd, 2012 10:37 pm (UTC)
Why does this not surprise me coming from you? *grin*

I don't know how you remain polite with some of the things you read. It annoys me that the writer makes glaring mistakes and infuriates me that the editor didn't pick up on them - or maybe there were just so many that the editor burnt out trying to get them!

And I just feel plain mean when it is a best-selling author/ big publisher. Grrr. I should be more sympathetic because I know that my stuff isn't perfect, but somehow it doesn't work like that. Maybe I should try for a New Year resolution to be less judgemental... or maybe not.
Jan. 3rd, 2012 02:26 pm (UTC)
Continuity is one of those really difficult things for me to track in my own writing since I'm usually more focused on word choice or sentence structure or characterization or whatever - hooray for proofreaders.
Jan. 3rd, 2012 10:40 pm (UTC)
It is always difficult to be that objective with your own words - you know what it should say so that's what you tend to see. And it is easy to forget that you deleted a scene, or didn't get around to writing it, that would have explained an apparent discontinuity.
Jan. 3rd, 2012 05:44 pm (UTC)
You hit on an excellent(and frustrating!) point. It *is* much easier for me to describe what didn't work for me in a story compared to what did.
Jan. 3rd, 2012 10:44 pm (UTC)
It isn't just stories for me. I know a lot more about what I don't like than what I do like - books, food, clothes, jobs, people...

I'm pretty sure that it is because I tend to analyse the 'why' of dislikes, but I just enjoy the likes without analysis.
Jan. 3rd, 2012 06:25 pm (UTC)
just editing my first attempt at original fic and remembered I gave M a garage... not sure he used it later - made a note of it and that will be edited
Jan. 3rd, 2012 10:50 pm (UTC)
But did he need it later? Sometimes you put things in intending to make use of them later and the story goes a different way. You could claim the extras are red herrings to distract the reader (or keep them interested), but if M said he needed a garage when he already had one...

Good luck with the story!
Jan. 4th, 2012 06:43 am (UTC)
I'll have to re-read everything, but I'm sure it could be important later

Thank you
Jan. 3rd, 2012 08:33 pm (UTC)
Yes! Continuity is vital. I'm with you on that one.
Jan. 3rd, 2012 10:53 pm (UTC)
Even if it just the colour socks or shirt...
Jan. 4th, 2012 07:46 am (UTC)
Oh yes, continuity errors bother me too and I do the same as you, Mara, and have to go back and see whether it's me getting it wrong. This is fine with a paperback, but not so easy on a book reader!

I had one yesterday where the time line was all over the place. I find these especially confusing and annoying because I need to have a definite sense of how long things are taking in a book, so to tell me that something happened two days ago on one page and then tell it me it happened the previous night on another page, and I'm not a happy bunny.
Jan. 4th, 2012 07:47 am (UTC)
I just read Tam's comment and she's said almost the same as me. Great minds...LOL!
Jan. 4th, 2012 08:58 am (UTC)
*sigh* I think that's the one criticism I have of ereaders over paper books - that I can't as easily flick back to check on something that jars.
Jan. 4th, 2012 11:02 am (UTC)
One mind split by an ocean... but it's good to know that it isn't just us grumpy Brits that get annoyed.

I do find those flickery time line ones so frustrating.

You and Clare are putting me off ereaders. One of the reasons I switched to ebooks was because I could search the document more easily to check details.
Jan. 4th, 2012 08:55 pm (UTC)
Continuity is important, characterization even more so. If someone climbs out of bed and goes off to get a donut and coffee, I'll assume that putting his pants on wasn't important enough to mention because it was so obvious (as opposed to having to engage in hand-to-hand combat au naturelle with a burglar). But if he has a casual relationship and then goes off and falls in love with the donut jockey without at least telling the other person it's over, that'll annoy me.

I've been doing some freelance editing lately, so at least the nitpicking is getting put to good use...

Edited at 2012-01-04 08:56 pm (UTC)
( 22 comments — Leave a comment )

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