Why Consistency Is So Important to Your Writing (and What Should We Do About it?)

Thursday, May 21, 2020
One thing that may have many of us feeling unsure or out of sorts right now is the conflicting information that can come with stories and information about the current pandemic. Some of it is because we live in a 24/7 news cycle, and scientists and doctors are making new discoveries daily. Some of it is rumor and hype. But when I talk to my friends and family, this is one topic that's often brought up: Everything feels so inconsistent. People are asking: Who do I trust?

Think about your best friend or a relative you are close to. You've established trust and a bond, and one of the ways this happened is because the person was consistent. He or she followed through on promises and showed up when s/he said they would. S/he was always there for you with consistent behavior.

So consistency is important to human beings; and as you know, human beings are your readers--at least for now, until we teach other creatures to read or life is found on another planet. (I'm only kidding--sort of.)

When I was thinking about this post, I thought of many, many ways that we have to be consistent when we write or because we are writers. I decided I would turn this topic into a series of blog posts. Today's post gives you an overview of the topic; and then in other posts throughout the end of May and into June, I'll provide some tips in different areas for how to be consistent in your writing and keep your readers happy!

Here are some areas where consistency is important both in your writing and in your career:

  • Point of view character
  • Worldbuilding
  • Characters' descriptions
  • Characters' names
  • Characters' motivations and feelings
  • Spelling (i.e., U.S. vs U.K.)
  • Formatting
  • Branding
  • Correspondence
  • Social Media
and more...

This is where you come in. Where do you think it is crucial to be consistent, in both your stories, novels, essays, or whatever you write and in your career and marketing. Is there an area where you excel or one where you struggle? Please let me know in the comments. Plus, if you have any questions in this area, please also leave them in the comments, and I will answer them in following posts.

Here's to being consistent in an area of our lives we can control--our writing! 

Margo L. Dill is a writer, editor, and writing coach and instructor, living in St. Louis, MO, with her nine-year-old daughter and her one-year-old lab mix dog, Sudsi. To take Margo's next novel writing course, go here and sign up before June 5! She will help you be consistent when writing your novel or memoir. 


Sioux Roslawski said...

Margo--I have a couple of questions. One: How do you check for consistency when you're dealing with a long piece, like a manuscript? I mean, do you print out a physical copy and start highlighting details in different colors? Do you do a read-through and use post-its? (Obviously, the best thing to do is write it with consistency in the first place. ;)

The other--now that I think about it and try to formulate it--is more of a plea than a question. I know the various ways to make each character distinct. Their choice of words. The rhythm of their speech. Their gestures. Nervous habits. I'd love to hear how you--as a novelist and as an editor--create and look for distinct characters. I realize what I'm asking for might involve a 12-part class, so I hesitate even asking. I guess I'm looking for any systematic methodology suggestions...

Renee Roberson said...

Right now I'm being consistent in writing in my "Start Today" Journal each morning as I'm having my coffee. It helps keep me focused on my goals. I'm also trying to be consistent with my podcast content creation, since I'm trying hard to get that off the ground (in between my day job). For example, even though I don't have a "normal" episode ready this week, I feel like I still need to offer listeners something in the genre. I created a shorter episode, and am also trying to be consistent in sending out an e-mail each week reminding people when a new episode drops. It's not much, but I want people to remember me.

Margo Dill said...

Thank you so much for your questions. I think I am going to save them--already screenshotted on my phone and sent them to myself. I love technology--and answer them in my next post.

Renee: I love that you have a consistent routine for your day and your podcast. I know once Katie and I embraced a routine during this sheltering-in-place that we both did so much better, and she knew what to expect when I was consistent.

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