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Author Chris Davis: Continuity Really Makes A Difference

Posted on the 28 November 2011 by Eric And Sookie Lovers @EricSookieLover

Author Chris Davis: Continuity Really Makes A Difference

Continuity – Does It Really Make a Difference?

According to author Chris Davis, it most certainly does! You’re probably wondering why we’re posting about this. Well, for starters, he mentions the Sookie Stackhouse novels and we thought you might be interested in reading his four major reasons why continuity is important!

Let’s start with what he says about the Sookie Stackhouse series…

Even book series like Harry Potter and the Sookie Stackhouse novels didn’t handle continuity perfectly, if the readers talking about them out on the web are to be believed. It seems obvious that an author would want to make sure they kept the truths of their worlds intact and in place and continue to abide by them throughout the series. And that’s what you have to do if you’re intending to write something that’ll have even a sequel, let alone a whole series-full of books to follow it up. Because if you don’t, the reader will notice.

Hmmm…does this ring any bells? Funny, how this author mentions the books, but doesn’t mention the same problem on True Blood…? In his blog post, he mentions many different TV shows and how continuity played a part in their success.

Here’s the 4 major reasons why continuity really makes a difference! Let’s see if you agree…

1)   Reality

a)   Even if you’re writing a universe that’s 100% fantasy, your audience has to be able to relate to it on some level, or why would they be interested in it? Even if the only ‘reality’ is the emotional reactions of your alien characters, it has to be something that resonates with human beings and their emotions.

b)   People are willing to accept that on the planet you created, the aliens fly, or plants are all blue, or the inhabitants all look like they’re half-canine. But only if you ground it somehow in something they comprehend. Using little facts like the gravity of the planet being ‘next-to-nothing,’ helps audiences swallow the fact that 200-pound creatures can fly there, for example. If you turn around and say a one hundred-pound girl can’t fly, you’d better have a good explanation for it, because otherwise you’ve just left continuity behind.

2)   Believability

a)   And that leads us to believability. On Earth here today as we know it, there are accepted laws of science (not that we’ve figured everything out yet) that everything seems to follow. We know, for example, that walking on the Moon isn’t anything like walking on Earth due to gravity. We know that women eventually reach an age where their bodies are no longer able to bear children (biological clocks ticking as they do). We know that the sky looks blue on a clear, sunny day, and we know why it looks blue.

b)   So if you create a world where everything from buildings to people to animals float rather than walk; where two hundred year-old females bear healthy babies; and where the sky is varying shades of red, it contributes a lot to the believability of that world if you create ‘rules’ such as lower gravity, one thousand-year life spans and their sun being a red star. And ensuring that you never mention a blue sky or a seventy year-old woman who’s gone through menopause gives continuity throughout your story so that the reader continues to believe.

3)   Understanding

a)   In order for audiences to enjoy what they’re reading (or watching, if it’s a TV show or movie), they have to understand what they’re seeing or reading. They have to understand why a character is typically a loner. Why the bad guy acts the way he does. Why there are three moons in the sky at night. Why it’s such a struggle for your protagonist to tell someone he loves them. If you establish reasons for all these things in the context of your story, your reader will understand the world and the characters in that world.

b)   If you stick with those reasons – for example, your emotionally constipated hero doesn’t suddenly pull a bodice-ripping move on a female he’s attracted to and start spouting love poetry (unless he’s been drugged!) – then the continuity of the world you’ve created will allow the reader to continue to understand…and believe…what they’re reading.

4)   Consistency

a)   If your world is not consistent – meaning (for a TV show) that in the first episode you’ve said your hero was in the Navy, but then you have one of his old commanding officers say he was a doctor in AMEDD, well…anyone who knows that AMEDD is the Army Medical Department, knows that a Naval officer (most likely) couldn’t have been with AMEDD!

b)   Inconsistencies…in other words, not paying attention to your continuity…is a surefire way to lose face with your audience. For a TV show, sometimes people will keep watching anyway, if the primary reason they’re watching is because of the star(s) of the show. They just want to watch them and will follow them to the ends of the Earth even if the actual show itself is a bomb. But in books, you don’t get that much of a free pass. Not really. Because when you create the rules of the world you’re writing, but don’t stick to them, why should the reader trust that you won’t let them down? Why would they want to believe the rules you made up when you as the author can’t even stick to them?

The last reason – consistency most definitely could be applied to True Blood, doesn’t it?

See example below…

Author Chris Davis: Continuity Really Makes A Difference

Sookie’s sparkly fingers – probably one of the most inconsistent issues True Blood has. Sometimes she uses them, sometimes not. Sometimes she uses her telepathy, sometimes not, and never when she really needs them.

Another one is Sookie’s ‘forgiveness’ of Bill at the end of Season 4. While, this might be understandable in the future, at this time – it seems highly inconsistent, especially after Season 3 when Bill’s invitation was rescinded (as seen below)!

Author Chris Davis: Continuity Really Makes A Difference  Author Chris Davis: Continuity Really Makes A Difference  Author Chris Davis: Continuity Really Makes A Difference

Not only did Sookie find out all of Bill’s lies, she found out just how deep his betrayal really was – only to turn around and forgive him in the Season 4 finale as if it wasn’t one week in her mind.

The books are better with their consistency overall, but even Charlaine Harris had to hire a continuity editor because her continuity needed improving.

Before you share your thoughts, I want to add to the last one mentioned in the quote.

Not being consistent with the characters and their storylines – also creates confusion for the viewers. They don’t know which way is right and which way is wrong; because the writer keeps changing everything all the time. Then, the viewers/readers get frustrated because something that should be easy to understand…isn’t.

We could probably go on and on about all the continuity flaws we find in both True Blood and the Sookie Stackhouse novels, but we want leave the discussion open to you!

If you are interested in reading the entire article, please click here!

What do you think of these reasons? Do you agree or disagree? Share your thoughts below!

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