Recently I stumbled across a list I’d scribbled in one of my writing notebooks while editing my first trilogy. At the top of one page, in giant loopy (and–let’s face it–slightly manic) handwriting are two words: CONTINUITY ISSUES!
In crafting fiction, continuity issues crop up for a number of reasons. The most common reasons include late-date tweaks to a plot or a character that are inevitable and yet frustrating because they nearly always require total book (or, in my case, total series) checks to ensure that the story still hangs together as a unified whole. This is a time-consuming process, but a relatively simple one. Once I root through my manuscripts and make the necessary changes, no one is the wiser–except perhaps my editor, who either approved the changes or suggested them in the first place.
Though I occasionally offer justification or pushback against editorial changes, I know deep down that there’s no way I can be objective about my writing. I’ve spent too much time with my nose buried in the page to see the big picture clearly, and my insane emotional attachment to the time I’ve invested in certain sections unduly influences me to champion them even when they add little overall value. That’s why as a writer, I’ve learned to trust my editors. Although the process is sometimes painful, each edit is a kindness.
In life, I also have an Editor. He’s constantly reworking the narrative, adjusting my story goals, adding and subtracting characters, and tweaking the timeline. When I recognize this happening, I have two options: I can try to superimpose my will over His, or I can learn to trust his firm editorial hand.
A man’s heart plans his way,
But the Lord directs his steps.
(Proverbs 16:9 NKJV)