Marji Laine: Faith~Driven Fiction

. . . Authentic and Intense

Writer’s Tip: Continuity


Continuity is imperative!
A television show that I used to love to watch was MASH. (Have no time to watch anymore!) I can’t really recommend it due to language and topics, but it makes me laugh. Still, it had SUCH trouble with continuity. I know it had several writers through its 10+ seasons and I wonder if the new ones ever took note of the older episodes before they started writing.

Hawkeye, the main character, is a perfect example.
In one of the first episodes, might have been THE first episode, he writes a
letter to his dad and in the end tells him to “Give Mom a kiss for me, and Sis.” In subsequent episodes, it’s made clear that he and his dad are the only living
members of his family. There never was a sis, and Mom died when he was a boy. That situation encases an entire episode, although it is
punctuated throughout the series. It seems these writers didn’t think much of the memories of MASH watchers, but in their defense, they certainly couldn’t imagine back-to-back reruns, complete series cds, and MASH marathons that only accentuate the mistakes.

It’s even more important in novels, I think. Readers will sit down to a book and read until they’re done with it. I know; I’m one of them. Forgotten or changed details stand out in a glare. My daughter mentioned one in the book she’s reading right now. The main character envied her aunt’s straight black hair instead of her own frizzy -do. Later in the story, another character admires the aunt’s golden hair. Oops. Despite the error, my daughter really likes the book and looks forward to the next one in the series.
So as I’m adding details, I go back to my story board. Sticky notes to the rescue. In the chapter and day of the detail, I stick a little note explaining my change or addition so if I find mention of it again I’ll have a visual of the new fact. Revisions are tough enough without having to go back through my story looking for a lost detail.
Your Turn: Have you seen an example of lack of continuity in something you’ve watched or read?

Author: Marji Laine

Marji is a recently "graduated" homeschooling mom whose twin girls have blessed her by sticking around the nest for a little longer. She spends her days directing the children’s music program at her church and working with the authors of Write Integrity Press to put out the best possible version of their books. Raised in suburban Dallas, she got her first taste of writing through the stories of brilliant authors of their day, Mignon Eberhart and Phyllis A. Whitney, and through stage experience. After directing and acting in productions for decades, Marji started writing her own scripts. From that early beginning, she delved into creating scintillating suspense with a side of Texas sassy. She invites readers to unravel their inspiration, seeking a deeper knowledge of the Lord’s Great Mystery that invites us all.

3 thoughts on “Writer’s Tip: Continuity

  1. I love MASH, but you're right, lack of continuity bothers me no end. The Simpsons have been getting rather bad with that, too…


  2. I have some great crit partners! If I wonder about something, I can bet that my CPs won't let me get away with it!


  3. I work to make sure the details in my story are accurate and that the timeline flows smoothly. As hard as I try to ensure that the continuity is there, I still miss things. That's why I'm so grateful to my CP and editor. They catch my goofs.