Keeping track of everything in your story

10 Jan link to Sharon A.'s short story collection link to Sharon A.’s short story collection

If you start to revise before you’ve reached the end, you’re likely to begin dawdling with the revisions and putting off the difficult task of writing.

–          Pearl S. Buck

Currently I’m rewriting the prequel novel to four linked short stories in Beyond the Tripping Point. I’m expanding and complicating the plot and telling the story from four points of view. The original novel had only one POV – the first person singular – Dana. Yes it is the fraternal twins again and my own head has been going back and forth from the points of view of Dana, her twin Bast, her son David, and a suspect who isn’t named. I am following the rules of one character’s POV per scene or chapter.

However, all this to-ing and fro-ing makes it more difficult to keep track of timelines, who is doing what and the biggie – consistency in story line, in character’s actions, etc. To lower the muddle factor, I started a new file called “Follow-up List.” Every time something occurs that requires checking/changing for consistency, timeline – even research, it goes on the list. Right now timeline, consistency and keeping all the police constables sorted out are the big factors.

Why am I doing this? Besides the obvious, if you constantly stop writing to do research or sort out characters and timeline, you lose your creative flow. Mind you, I am going back for a few things if they are interfering with moving the plot along from where I am working. But the research can wait – some of it is just re-checking facts I’m not sure I got right. Or some detail such as a name change, can be fixed by using the Find and Replace Word features – preferably at the end of your writing session.

Another action I take (and I’ve mentioned it in an earlier post) is refusing to stall over a word that doesn’t seem quite right or is repetitious. Stopping to look it up in the Thesaurus, even if online, also breaks the creative flow. For example, as I wrote this blog post, I spelled Thesaurus incorrectly but did not correct it immediately. Here Word underlined it in red so I could go back and change it. For repetitious words or words not quite right, you just need to put (word) or (repetition) in brackets after the offending word and return to it later in your rewrite or in my case, another rewrite to fine-tune the rewrite I’m doing now. One final suggestion – format your manuscript before you start writing. Or if your situation is similar to mine – a rewrite of a novel originally written 10 or 11 years ago, where the formatting was different, you can leave it until you are finished. Stopping to fix paragraph formatting stops the creative flow.

And how is my massive rewrite going? Nearly finished the first big rewrite. If all goes well I’m hoping to have it done by the end of the day tomorrow. Afterwards, I want to let it sit for a few days and then go through my follow-up list and well, follow it.

Meantime, I’m doing plenty of PR for my short story collection Beyond the Tripping Point. Tonight I’m doing a sort of performance reading of a short story excerpt as part of the Periodical Writers Association of Canada’s Talent Night. Sometime between 8 p.m. and 11 p.m. I’ll be onstage at the Free Times Cafe in downtown Toronto. If you are in the Toronto area perhaps you can drop in. Check out for more information, including location, or go to my website under Beyond the Tripping Point where I’m posting upcoming readings, etc. as I get them. All my links are either on this book page or at the top of my website home page you will find the usual social media icons.

And if you click on the book icon at the top of this post, when you get to, please read my bio and click on the Like Icon. Thanks.

Keep the creative flow going.


Sharon A. Crawford


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