Baseboards and Oversights

DSC09797Our house has baseboards, and today my hubby is taping above them in preparation for repainting. Baseboards are one of those things I’ve always taken for granted. Don’t they just run around rooms in straight lines to tidy up where walls meet flooring? Who knew they have to fit around so many corners and into so many out-of-the-way nooks and crannies to do so?

It’s a little like all the details that go into polishing a story. Inconspicuous but essential items that pull everything together, tidying up fictional versions of jagged gyproc edges and stray carpet fibers.

I’m surprised at how many messy bits I catch during revisions – the obvious discrepancies like the protagonist who has copper-coloured hair in one chapter and burnished blonde in another, or the child who can’t reach an item on a kitchen counter but has no trouble using the sustain pedal at his piano lesson. Obscure references to distances and time can blow your credibility, too. I had a character taking a flight from Vancouver to Toronto. She had a leisurely breakfast with her husband before leaving for the airport, and she miraculously arrived at her destination in time for a mid-morning meeting! (It’s a five-hour flight.)

Messy bits detract from a good impression of an otherwise well constructed story, just as much as dented, paint-spattered baseboards do from an otherwise tastefully decorated room.

Have you discovered any messy mazes in your current WIP that would have confused a reader, or has a critique partner or editor ever pointed out an embarrassing oversight?

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4 thoughts on “Baseboards and Oversights

  1. joylene says:

    I finally had to pull out a calendar yesterday and get my dates straight. That’s where my errors occurred. I’ll have a character wake up two days later for no good reason. Like he’d actually sleep two days! Or leave on a jet plane and arrive in Europe in less than 9 hours. Not!

    Is that your blueprints for your house? Or did you sneak a set off the internet? I only wonder because in another lifetime I wanted to be an architect.

    • Carol says:

      I’m glad I’m not the only one who lets time meander at will in my manuscripts!

      No, that’s not our blueprint, nor one from the internet. It’s one of several collected while helping some of our family in their househunting.

  2. Darlene says:

    That is why I am so thankful for my critique group, because they catch many of those little details for me. Now if your character was flying from Toronto to Vancouver, she just might make the mid morning meeting due to the 3 hour time difference!

    • Carol says:

      Yes, the time change in the other direction would have worked out well. As it was, however, it was actually four in the afternoon when she arrived. Definitely not “mid morning”. 🙂

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