Today’s game is called: Let’s find the horrible error!
This is how we play. Below is an excerpt of a chapter I wrote and edited. How quickly does the thought, “This author’s an idiot,” cross your mind?
In a soft and comfortable chair facing the floor-to-ceiling window, Peter Konklin sipped a well-regarded single malt Scotch whiskey. Another hopper enter the landing pattern for LaGuardia Airport as the sun struggled to rise above the skyline.
A gentle rap on his open door stirred him. The work day hadn’t yet started, his assistant not expected for another hour yet, but he had his first appointment, the most important of the day. “Come in, Nancy.” He looked to the ceiling and commanded: “Control. Lights, normal.”
The lights returned to a social level and obscured the outside view. He showed Nancy to a seat before his desk and poured her a Scotch.
The last line of the first paragraph sets the time frame, which is early morning. Yes, I have my character drinking scotch before dawn. No, Peter isn’t an alcoholic, nor is the book about alcohol abuse.
So, why did I write that?
It didn’t happen in one sitting. For years, this scene took place in the evening, after the workday had ended. In tightening the novel’s beginning (I removed a net of 5k words) to make it pace faster, I had to move the scene from evening to early morning. I changed all direct time references in the scene properly. However, I completely missed the indirect time references related to social conventions (i.e., well-adjusted people don’t booze it up before dawn).
At least, I was consistent. Scotch was referenced in the last paragraph of the excerpt, and Nancy sipped it later in the scene.
There is a lot to be said for making edits and allowing the work to sit for a time before reviewing it again. I guarantee you that I read the scene after making substantial changes to it, and I completely missed the scotch before dawn issue.