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Friday, December 28, 2012
Avoiding Little Anachronisms
The holiday break from my day job has not provided as much time to write as I had hoped, but I'm getting some in today before the long weekend and returning to work on Wednesday.
Some of the most recent scenes I wrote demanded a few tweaks here and there, including a change in sequence that just made more sense from the standpoint of what a logical man like Paul would do. The changes required some editing for continuity purposes as well to avoid anachronisms. Arline Chase from Write Words has had a number of posts on her blog about this topic based on questions from writers. While the word anachronism might at first suggest things like current slang in an historical setting or the mention of an event that should not have happened yet, there are smaller anachronisms that can creep into a manuscript. Since my creative process is all over the place, not progressing in a straight line from beginning to end before changes get made, I have to be watchful of them.
As an example, the scenes I switched around were quite emotional for Stefanie who received comforting support from Paul. One patch of dialog originally delivered in his office was changed to happening in a hotel room. Only a quick reread after cutting and pasting the sections in their new order showed Paul standing up when he was already standing! It also had Stefanie emerging from the shower and noticing him collecting some evidence in the bathroom. The shift of order had him hugging her shortly after her questioning him about what he was doing, but that meant he hugged her while she was still drying off. While that is not impossible, it did seem awkward once I realized how it "sounded."
Both of these anachronisms might have been caught during the editing phase, after the entire manuscript got written in a first pass, but a perfectionist tendency in my wants each scene as complete and correct as it can be before I can move on. I know there will always be more tweaking as I edit, but I always fear that if I don't get it right in the first draft, I might just forget to check for it later or, worse, lose the thread of the inspiration altogether.