Ensuring consistency in a manuscript can sometimes be overwhelming, especially when you’re working on a series with numerous details and facts, so here are a few tips to keep in mind.
The best way to keep track of details is a style sheet. We compile one for every book during the editing process. It assists the editor and author as they work on revisions, and it’s helpful for the copy editor and proofreader when they eventually work on the manuscript. Our style sheets contain a detailed character list, including physical descriptions, nicknames, and ages; a list of verified words not found in the dictionary, trademarks, and names of stores, restaurants, streets, etc.; a timeline briefly summarizing each chapter and highlighting dates and times; and other notes and useful information. Keep your style sheet handy when you’re writing or editing because you’ll need to update and refer to it often.
Whenever you change something, such as a character’s name or a date, use the find and replace tool to make all the references consistent. And remember, even the smallest change can have a ripple effect, so be on the lookout for other necessary adjustments.
Finally, the key to continuity in your book is to question and verify everything, especially numbers, dates, and times. Also, know your characters inside out. For instance, be sure they drive the same make and model of car and have the same eye color throughout the manuscript. Even if you think you remember details, double-check them anyway.
Be mindful of details, but try not to let them bog you down. If you write a style sheet and double-check everything, you’ll have no trouble keeping the details in your book under control and consistent.