One of my biggest complaints when watching a long-running television show is when writers forget something a character said, did or revealed in an earlier season that doesnít jive with the current season. Usually, I catch the mistake right then and there. Sometimes, I donít catch it until I watch the reruns on cable; several seasons in a matter of a few weeks. It also irks me when a secondary character is revealed early on and then we donít see him for another year or two and the name of the character has been changed. Why do these things bother me? Because when I write a series, I try my best to pay attention to the smallest of details.
In my latest work, The Revolving Point, Texas Series, Revolving Point is a nowhere town that was nearly destroyed by a fire. As many of the businesses burned to the ground, most of the citizens fled with nothing more than the clothes on their backs. Some, like the mayor and his family, remained and continue to help rebuild the town. And some businesses, such as Millerís saloon, were untouched by the fire. To keep everything and everyone straight, including the layout of the town, I have notebooks for each book and transfer character names and descriptions from one notebook to the next, so I donít forget Miller is a big, barrel-chested man. Or that the bank is on the southeast corner of an intersection. Or that plans to erect a library occur in one story and if the library is ready for use in the next story. And if not, why.
Itís important to me, as a writer, to keep the small details as precise as the larger details. Readers invest their time in an author and an authorís work. They read for enjoyment and donít want to come across a mistake that pulls them out of the story and makes them thinkóthat wasnít what happened the last book. I know when I read for enjoyment, I expect the same from my favorite authors. Keep your notebooks close by and donít be afraid to use them. Write as many notes and character descriptions as you need and transfer them to your next notebook, to your next story in the series. Readers will appreciate your dedication to detail, and you will, too.