The Journal: A Note About Consistency

In today’s Journal

* Quotes of the Day
* Today (a forewarning regarding content)
* Yesterday
* Topic: A Note About Consistency
* A Personal Note (this is the content I warned you about)
* Of Interest
* The Numbers

Quotes of the Day

“Repetition does not transform a lie into a truth.” Franklin D. Roosevelt

“No writer I know thinks they write enough on any given day or week or month or year. It is a broken record almost every writer repeats over and over and over and over and over.” Dean Wesley Smith

“Characters are not created by writers. They pre-exist and have to be found.” Elizabeth Bowen

Yes! What she said! And the same goes for the story the characters are living in their alternate dimension.

Today, I’m a little annoyed, and as Shrek said, “Better out than in, I always say.” So at the very bottom of this edition of the Journal, I’ve added a plainly labeled personal note that expresses my personal displeasure at a certain type of subhuman. It has nothing to do with writing (or politics). Thus forewarned, if you are easily offended, I suggest you skip it.

Yesterday I went back and recast one of the scenes I wrote the day before. The conflict at the heart of the scene just didn’t work, so I tossed it and recast it. The scene works much better now, but I struggled to get my 3000-word daily count. (grin) So tomorrow, with that scene behind me and with the clarification it brings, the novel should run smoothly for awhile.

Words to a writer are like nails to a carpenter. Never be afraid to throw out a bent one (or a box of bent ones) and grab a new handful. In the end, you’ve lost nothing of value. (Ahem, speaking smugly: it’s looking pretty good that I’ll get at least 50,000 words this month, and no sweat. [grin])

Topic: A Note About Consistency

Now and again my first readers mention something they see as a flaw but that really isn’t. I’m grateful they mention those things anyway, but of course I don’t make changes I don’t agree with, and I NEVER force something on my characters for any reason. When I say it’s their story and not mine, I mean it. I’m only their recorder. My job is to allow them to tell their story through my fingers.

One of my readers mentioned recently that in a particular training center on Earth, a character was using military time (the 24-hour clock), so that reader wondered whether the clock on The Ark should also be the 24-hour version for consistency. The answer is no, it shouldn’t.

Thing is, that character used military time because that’s what he’s used to. And he’s in charge of the place where he used it, so he required everyone else there to use it too. But that was just him and only in that place, not the overall story. In fact, if I remember right, each time he used it, he also took pains to translate it to “civilian” time for the benefit of the students.

For consistency, that particular character would continue to use the 24-hour clock. In fact, I’m sure he does because it’s part of who he is. Some folks on The Ark probably will too, but definitely not across the whole ship.

Aboard The Ark, a generation ship, the bridge crew and a few others (maybe 100 people in total) have a military rank structure, primarily for accountability purposes. For example, if something goes wrong, it’s ultimately the CO’s responsibility. If a weapon is stolen from the armory, it’s the Armory Officer’s responsibility, and so on.

But The Ark is also carrying around 700 non-ranked crewpeople (cleanup crew, wait staff, et al) and 200,000 repops (repopulation passengers), all civilian. Trying to get all of them to use military time would be a headache of colossal proportions. And trying to force former military personnel to use the 12-hour a.m./p.m. clock on the bridge for example, well, that just wouldn’t be realistic.

For a more personel example, my cell phone is set to the 24-hour clock because that’s what I’m comfortable with. But if I’m talking with my wife or children or a neighbor about something that’s going to happen five hours after noon local time, I say “5 p.m.” not “1700.”

Same with the characters in my story. I wouldn’t dream of trying to force on them something they aren’t used to, for consistency or any other reason. It just wouldn’t be realistic. Besides, it’s their story. Really.

Now, if

* a character was wearing a brown jacket when he walked into a room, but a blue jacket when he walked out (and he hadn’t changed the jacket),

* or if a character had intense, ice-blue eyes but another character commented later that she loved his trusting brown eyes

* or if he packs his boots in the bottom of a duffel but minutes later is wearing them on the front porch as he leaves with his packed duffel or

* in the description of a generation ship the main deck has “four lounges” but later in the story it has only one

those would be a consistency issues. (grin)

So that’s the key: Consistency issues are always writer mistakes. They never come from the characters themselves.

A Personal Note

to any person or persons who drive shopping carts full of toilet paper through the checkout in my local Walmart and to whichever members of management and/or cashiers are allowing that practice:

May you and your families need much more toilet paper than you’ve hoarded. May you have the seemingly endless trots and be literally driven across the room by the force of escaping bodily gasses every time you get out of your chair. And may the toilet paper you’re hoarding to the detriment of the rest of us shred upon use, render you miserable, and leave you with a disgusting, sticky bottom so it will at least match your personality.

Yes, troglodyte, your family is just as special and perfect and deserving of a participation trophy as are the rest of the families in America. Which of course means it is no more so.

Stop being a selfish jerk. Or at least take enough pride in yourself and your egocentric actions to wear a mask that reads “Yes, I’m Special” when you go out in public so I know to whom specifically I should flash the internationally recognized one-finger symbol to indicate my annoyance and displeasure. Because YOU, my fine-feathered enemy, are breathing air you fall far short of deserving.

Talk with you again soon.

Of Interest

See “Beware of False Suspense” at Just in case you might get something out of it.

See “Are You a Writing Success or an Imposter?” at

See “50 Juicy Questions To Ask Your Characters” at I include this for those of you who still do character sketches, etc. I advocate just writing the story and letting the characters and their personalities unfold as the story is revealed. You know, like in real life.

See “Apple Slashes App Store Fees…” at See PG’s take.

The Numbers

The Journal…………………………………… 1160 words

Writing of The Journey Home: Part 1 (novel)

Day 1…… 3373 words. Total words to date…… 3373
Day 2…… 3312 words. Total words to date…… 6685
Day 3…… 3292 words. Total words to date…… 9977

Total fiction words for November……… 41599
Total fiction words for the year………… 404877
Total nonfiction words for November… 11260
Total nonfiction words for the year…… 177100
Total words for the year (fiction and this blog)…… 581977

Calendar Year 2020 Novels to Date…………………… 6
Calendar Year 2020 Novellas to Date……………… X
Calendar Year 2020 Short Stories to Date… 13
Novels (since Oct 19, 2014)…………………………………… 51
Novellas (since Nov 1, 2015)………………………………… 8
Short stories (since Apr 15, 2014)………………… 214
Short story collections……………………………………………… 31