Writing Wednesday: Maintaining Draft Continuity

Last week’s goals:

Made my three blog posts on time, but fell backwatds on my blog commenting (it was one of those life happens things that pretty much crashed the week – big enough that I’m NOT going to feel guilty about failing to reach goals, which IS a big deal for me…)

I had one more story come back from a market, and it went right back into circulation (I’m glad I have Literarium to use for market searches – even if I STILL can’t figure out how to log my submissions in the tool.)

I finished listening to Writing Great Fiction (in Great Courses), and found it valuable enough that I’m listening through again to make some of it stick better.

I produced 3,035 words of fiction last week, mostly on Swordsmaster’s Sequel (now at over 5,200 words.) The rest were on the FINAL revision of “Crypto” (which is @ 6600 words, and will go to market as soon as I FINALLY settle on an actual title.) I made my weekly word quota, but would have done much better if LIFE hadn’t happened (as mentioned in paragraph one.)


A piece of writing advice I’ve seen a lot is to write while the idea is hot. There was a time when I used to be in the middle of writing one story and I’d come up with ideas for other ones, so I’d  write them down, just to make sure I wouldn’t forget them (and because who knows WHEN I’d ever think of another idea.) By the time I got around to looking at those notes again, I either couldn’t figure out what I meant, or why I thought it was a good idea, or I might get excited about it and write a story, but I know it wasn’t about the same idea I had written down – it had become more like a vague prompt from an anonymous source.

I’ve stopped jotting down ideas for stories.

It could just be the way that I work (all writers have their own idiosyncrasies), but I’m a big believer in writing out (euphemism for typing) the entire first draft of a story before going back and making changes. Part of it is to keep my internal (or INFERNAL) editor from shutting down the creative process, but it’s mostly about continuity.

When I first come across an idea that’s strong enough to force words onto the page, I need to keep going with that idea – let the words continue flowing onto the page and see where the story/muse/inspiration leads. If I let a gap occurs in the middle of writing, the story often changes into something that it wasn’t in the beginning. Sometimes the differences aren’t too bad, and I can figure out how to bridge that gap with little change to either beginning or end. But I’ve had a time or two when the continuity was so broken that I wound up with two stories – a new ending for the original beginning, and a new beginning for the renegade ending.

This difficulty I’m describing afflicts me every so often in short fiction (which is most of what I’ve written), although, being short fiction, it’s not TOO hard to finish a first draft inside a week without losing track of where the story was going. Novels are more problematic. The territory being covered is wider, so there are more directions I can go off in, and the length is such that LIFE is far more likely to interrupt the process and create those GAPs that I mentioned, where I might not be able to bridge the two sides. And in a novel, I can wind up with several gaps.

So, how do I maintain consistency?

I try to do as much planning as I can up front. For Swordsmaster, I had the advantage of thinking about the plot for close to forty years, so I had a good idea where the story was going. Even with that, I only had four events that I was sure of (the manhood ritual, the finding of the sword, Svaerd’s escape, and the final resolution.) That and a very rough list of minor events (half of which never happened in the finished book) kept the tale on course.

Swordsmaster’s Sequel (working title – remember?) doesn’t have the same advantages – I only started thinking seriously about what the plot would be since April, and jotted down a very rough outline (basically, what needs to happen in the first five or six chapters, and an idea of which characters are involved.) But this story will do its own thing as it goes along, and I will get to explore what happens like any other reader. Which makes it a little difficult to maintain that consistency I’m talking about.

And when LIFE happens, like it did last week, who knows whether the story will remember where it was going when I start writing again? I need to set more signposts along the way and hope they still mean something when the story resumes on the other side. And that I can build a decent bridge when I come to those gaps.

Just saying…

What do you do when you encounter those gaps? Or do you have a way to avoid them? Please let us all know in the comments – thanx!


William Mangieri has written several pieces of short fiction, but he also has two series of short stories – the inaugural story of each is AVAILABLE FOR FREE at several retailers, including, but not limited to Smashwords.PurrMissionCoverSeries

Major Tom’s cub is dying of the Morient Virus, and he knows their sworn enemies the Baastards are responsible, but bureaucats order him not to go to their planet to recover the antidote. Easier to beg forgiveness than to ask purrmission. Ready for heroism, space, spies, and lives in the balance?

“Purr Mission” is the first of his Herc Tom, Champion of the Empire series, (as well as his first Honorable Mention in the Writers of the Future contest), and  can be found here:  https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/211302

InAFlashJimmyCoverJimmy was a good cop, but age and changing times were getting the better of him. If he could only get an edge – what would be the harm? I mean, everybody cheats a little, don’t they? Read “In a Flash” to see Jimmy get himself out of trouble.

“In a Flash”, the beginning of his Detective Jimmy Delaney stories, can be found here:  https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/120247

Go out and give them both a read (and a review would be appreciated, too – thanx!)


Fate is neither something to run away from, nor something to run towards.

The first bright-eye to be seen on the mountain in living memory, Sandrik didn’t Swordsmaster4want anyone to think of him as they did the ominous Aurae of legend, so he had worked hard to keep his special abilities hidden. But there was more to Sandrik than even he knew. Now that it was time for him to enter the ancient ruins of Taernfeld and be declared a man, what other changes might he be forced into?

Swordsmaster is a fantasy novel, and is available at several online retailers, including, but not limited to:

Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/954501

Amazon:  https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07WNK79FM


William Mangieri’s writing has been published on Daily Science Fiction. His eighty or so short fictions and related collections can be found at several online retailers, including, but not limited to:
• Smashwords:  https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/NoTimeToThink
• His Amazon Author page:  http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B008O8CBDY
• Barnes & Noble:  http://www.barnesandnoble.com/s/william-mangieri?store=book&keyword=william+mangieri

• His site on WordPress:  https://williammangieri.wordpress.com
• “William Mangieri’s Writing Page” on Facebook at:  http://www.facebook.com/NoTimeToThink
• His Goodreads author page:  http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6893616.William_Mangieri
• Or on twitter: @WilliaMangieri

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