Since I write without a plan, I seldom note down what a house (for example) looks like inside or out. I mention the things that matter as the scenes unfold, but later I have no memory of the furniture or the front porch, or the rooms. The problem here is that when people come to that house two books later in the series, I don’t know what they’re seeing–much less what they’re sitting on.
This means laboriously going through the Kindle versions of my books and taking a lot of notes about the house’s style and furnishings. The time I save by not taking notes about settings in novel one is more than used up while finding out what’s what by reading through earlier material while writing novels two, three, and four.
For some reason, I always think I’ll remember the details. I seldom do because they’re created on the fly as the action unfolds. People catch continuity problems in movies all the time. The sofa in a scene is red, then it’s suddenly blue in the next scene and not even there the next time people go into the living room.
The last thing I want is readers telling me that a house–or even a sofa–keeps changing color from book to book. Or somebody’s hair or eye color. In “The Big Sleep,” Bogart said of his manners, “I don’t like them myself. They’re pretty bad. I grieve over them on long winter evenings.” I could say the same thing about my writing habits.
They help me write book one. They’re a detriment in the books that follow. That’s why I need an assistant to make a list of the houses, people, &c. in each book and send it to me as a dictionary of everything I’ve said before about everything.
But, as a poor starving author, I can’t afford a continuity supervisor, so I need to change my habits. Yeah, right, like that’s going to happen.