Have you ever realised you’ve made a mistake with the layout of one of your character’s houses? Maybe you gave them a piano in a sitting room in chapter 1, but it’s materialised in the dining room by chapter 6.
Or have you ever forgotten that the back door is through the kitchen in chapter 3, but is exited via the utility room in chapter 10?
Don’t worry, you’re not alone! This kind of thing used to happen to me all the time, and it’s a real pain to correct them in later drafts of your work as they may have repercussions for later scenes.
Thankfully, I’ve come up with a little trick to help: what I now do is I draw a little map of the homes of each of my main characters in the back of my writing notebook.
I start a new notebook for each of my romances, and it must be A4 sized and with fairly narrow lines. Ideally it should be hardback, but let it not be said I won’t accept the right softback, especially if it’s a Moleskine. The back few pages are full of basic layouts of my protagonists’ homes – including any important pieces of furniture, such as favourite chairs, and where windows are, and, sometimes, what can be seen out of them if that’s relevant to the plot. I keep it very roughly to scale, so I know, for example, what room is above what other room.
Here’s the sketch I did for a manuscript I’m currently working on, it’s my heroine’s tiny London flat. Obviously, this is a very simple home so there’s not much involved in drawing it out, especially as it’s all on one floor, but you get the idea.
This tip really doesn’t take very long, but it’s made a huge difference, saving me editing time, and having the drawings in the back of my writing notebook makes them super easy to check.
Of course, you could always take it one step further if there was a particular town or village which was going to feature heavily in a book or book series, and draw a map of the area. I really wish I’d thought to do this for Tonnadulais, the fictional Welsh town which features in my romances ‘The Green Hills of Home’ and ‘Snowed in for her Wedding’ – it would have made things a lot easier when I returned to it!