First: Tomorrow I will be on the radio, "How She Really Does It With Koren Motekaitis." Here is the Podcast page of some of her guests - I feel honored to be included among them.
Next, Barbara at The Serenity Gate is having a Tender Graces Give-away. Head on over there if you are interested in going for it.
And thank you to Natalie W for this award! As I always say, I am so very bad about passing on awards. I am always honored and happy when I received them, and then I mess up by not doing my part. But I am appreciative.
We’ve discussed dangling participles, similes, body parts that move on their own, adverbs, tic words, and yesterday, Point of View.
Today, I will speak about Consistency.
Consistency is key. For example, if I’m reading a novel and the author is writing in third person limited POV (see below), and suddenly they switch to omniscient POV (head-hop) (below), I am thrown. Not Consistent. If you want to head-hop, do it consistently. If you are writing from one narrator/charater's POV, then don't willy nilly change to head hopping here there and yonder. Be Consistent. You do not want to bump me from the world you are creating. Let me, as your reader, know what you are up to so I can go along for the ride without wondering what is going to come out of the blue or without going, "Wait, what was that? I thought . . . " (obviously if you are creating a world where you are going to surprise your audience, then a "wow, I didn't expect that" can be a good thing . . . but, there is a difference between that and playing your audience for a fool, or just slap being careless . . . but playing your audience for a fool is another subject for another day.)
As I said below: If you convince your audience, you have done your job: Period. But you better convince them well if you are coloring outside the POV lines—at least for this reader. Be consistent.
You want the reader to trust you to keep them engaged in the world of your character(s). When you aren’t consistent, the reader is temporarily thrown out of your story—or bumped from your story—and that is not what you want, right?
You want to build that trust between you and your reader that tells/shows them you know what you are doing. Think about that. You want your reader to be confident that you are going to give them something they are looking for even if they do not know they are looking for it, because you convince them. Be consistent to build trust.
Consistency is important in other areas, too—as in writing Dialect (more on dialect later), creating a consistent world of your making, in the "character" of your character, and in the obvious ways: blue-eyed people remain blue-eyed, Tommy doesn't turn into Johnny, a character hates liver and later on in the story they are, without explanation, happily chowing down on a pile of liver, etcetera.
Breaking rules is a beautiful thing, but if you decide to do it and are not consistent, then your reader can be Bumped from the world of your characters.
Convince your audience you are the confident story teller by being consistent.
google image from: http://msis.jsc.nasa.gov/images/Section08/Image241.gif