Forgetting what you wrote/Rereading.

How do you guys keep your chapters consistent? for me, there seems to be a lot of extraneous detail in my chapters-Rules, groups and names and backstory that is explained often through the dialogue and narrative of the characters. Even while writing chapters in a row I feel like I can't hold on the information from the previous chapters, like I constantly need to reread my previous chapters so I don't have any continuity errors or forget something about a group or an event that I referenced in like one or two sentences. This is driving me crazy and I don't have the time for this. Advice?

For my one story with a lot of stats and rules and all that, I keep a detailed spreadsheet that I add to whenever I write new details. For the other two, I just rely on my memory, which mostly works because I'm constantly rereading while I'm procrastinating from writing new stuff.

Despite all of that, I have had readers point out minor continuity errors, which allowed me to go back to fix them. Thankfully, they were errors I could fix without changing any of the plot. That's the advantage of publishing chapter by chapter. All along the process, new readers come and binge read what's been written so far, and they are able to spot the continuity issues you wouldn't notice reading chapter by chapter.

Still very new to this so I imagine it gets a lot worse after, say, thirty arcs instead of three. What I have is a google docs for each character that acts kind of like a character sheet/wiki entry that I keep updated as events unfold. It's a superhero story, so there's an entry for power details, plus the more standard personality/relationships/history sections. My powers don't change but I note down when someone finds a new trick to using them or something like that.

I also have a separate glossary file that stores world-building stuff like what the different organizations and groups are. I think my hardest time with that stuff is remembering what I've already said in the story and what I've only thought about saying.

Even with that help, I have to go back and check things all the time. I was just writing a scene where the main group is carrying out a raid they planned half an arc ago and I need to review their plan before getting started. How many guards are there, and where did I say they were going to be? When were they supposed to get there? That kind of thing.

Nobody reads what I write (except my girlfriend) though, so maybe I'm missing a ton of stuff. Who knows?

If its a serious project, I outline a couple chapters ahead when I write to somewhat help guide me for when I pick up the writing again. You could try that. Otherwise, as mentioned, maybe keep a "Bible" document on the side to note the important details for posterity.

Honestly, it's never been a concern for me. I've got a nearly eidetic memory, so I can clearly remember chapters I wrote well over a year ago. I'll forget some stuff, but it's all secondary information. I'll reread my books sometimes and think "oh, right, I remember setting that up! Fun times", but I've never forgotten critical information.

I'd recommend using a notebook and pen (the real thing) and jotting down any important names, relationships etc. You should have a good idea of the sorts of things that you will need to remember by now and you may also find the physical act of writing it down embeds it in your memory in a way that reading it off a screen doesn't, so you end up not needing to refer to those notes.

Get something like Scrivener to help you organise your writing and assorted notes.

Thanks guys, I have and physical glossary file as well as an outline, but I still find myself having trouble-worried about forgetting something. The problem for me is finding the time to stay up to date with the information in the files when I have so many other things to do.

Hello Moonfeather.

Other than the suggestions already listed, what I'll do at times, especially when I have a strong writing momentum going and I don't want to slow down for trivial details is I'll highlight in bold relevant dates, names, events that I know I'll need to reference at a later point, especially if the information is new. Sometimes I'll skip details altogether and write in notes in bold ALL CAPS to make me go back and address important details later. I for one hate having to stop present writing to reference the past. It's distracting. This might help as long as you don't find yourself doing it too much. There's a difference between not wanting to disrupt flow and just becoming lazy... lol.

Whenever I think there's a detail I may have already added, I just use a control-F to locate a key phrase for that topic and see if it's come up before. Otherwise... What's a continuity? I probably shouldn't be saying that when all my writing's in the same universe, but I just do my best and hope someone points it out to me someday

I'll just mention one additional thing I've done... if something happens that I think might be important later on, or it's something that I want to remember, I'll copy the sentence onto the last page, down below the point where I'm writing. I might consolidate it down to a few phrases when I save and leave the computer, because I have a pretty good memory and a couple words can trigger a plot point (or at least remind me where I need to look for more detail). Once the item is dealt with, I erase it. In case that's unclear, here's what the file looks like for one of the previous stories I wrote:

(Story Text)

(blinking cursor)




DEO: Department of Extra-Dimensional Objects

Doorways are vastly useful things. Just ask the Librarians.

@mathtans I do a similar thing, I keep a few story beats and sentences I want to add later all at the bottom of my documents.