I recently read a novel about an old trapper from the mountain man era by a writer I admire for mixing historical fact with fictional characters. His writing tends to be sharp and strongly edited with few problems that I have noticed. However, in this novel his protagonist rode slowly into a valley while his horse and mules fattened up on the early grass sprouting after a hard winter. A week, and several adventures, later an approaching storm threatened the first storm of autumn.
My first reaction was what? I then flipped back to page 3 when he entered the valley and read the next fifty-two pages when the storm was approaching. Yep, this occurred in late spring over a very short time frame. But, here he was discussing leaves turning colors and bears trying to fatten up before hibernation.
Several months ago I read a novel about a family homesteading in Colorado in the 1880s. When rustlers tried to run off some of his cattle, he pulled his trusty .30-06 from the scabbard and started shooting. I had to laugh at this one. He was a man ahead of his time since the .30-06 was not produced until about 1903 and adopted by the Army in 1906 (thus the “-06”.)
There have been many other instances that caught my attention. All could have been corrected by strong editing by both the writer and his editor.
In defense of editors, few have a working knowledge of the Old West so I put the blame for the wrong weapon on the writer.
Maintaining continuity is a major part of the writing process.
Here’s a flash fiction piece that maintains continuity.
The young boy ran and weaved, dodging obstacles, his breath ragged. A large man was chasing him and gaining. The boy’s shoes slipped on the slick grass. He looked over his shoulder-the man was gaining. He pushed harder with his legs. One foot slipped and he stumbled. He recovered and continued to run. Heavy breathing came from behind him. The man’s footfalls were closer. A hand raked across his shirt but didn’t connect. An arm wrapped around his chest and they fell together and rolled. The boy lay on his back straddled by the man.
The boy giggled. “Grampa!”