Consistency and continuity are integral for the success of any series. It doesn’t matter if it is a book series or movie series or even a TV series. Disney faced the wrath of Star Wars fans when it purchased the series and suddenly announced that the Expanded Universe would no longer be canon. But why? Why are readers — or viewers — so tied to characters and universes being consistent from one work to another?
The answer to that is simple. When you begin a series, you are building a world. You are creating characters your readers identify with. They may love the characters or hate them. If you’re lucky, it will be a bit of both. After all, the real world is filled with flawed characters, good and bad, and so should your fictional world.
But the reader or viewer also learns the rules of the world you have created. So, if you break those rules, you had better have laid the ground work for it. Otherwise, you will have broken faith with your audience. Why? Because you’ve told them certain things will happen in certain situations because of the rules of the world. Those rules are to be followed unless you give a reasonable explanation for the change.
Consistency also means making sure you carry over the same basic information from one installment to another. Yes, your characters should grow but some things don’t change, at least not without explanation. Eye color, age, sex, name, just to identify a few. If your leading character is from a big family, make sure you keep the number of siblings — and their sexes — consistent throughout. Don’t change it unless there is a birth or death or one of the siblings has done something to get them thrown out of the family. If that’s the case, you’d better make sure you tell your audience what happened and when.
For example, say your main character is one of four brothers but five siblings. That means he has three brothers and a sister, not four brothers and a sister. If your characters haven’t gotten married yet, don’t refer to them as husband and wife unless they have established a common law marriage — unless, of course, they are referring to themselves that way. In narrative, you will have your audience wondering if they missed something. If a character is a lawyer in one book, don’t make him a doctor in the next without explanation.
And yes, I have seen all this and more in different books over the last few months.
The reason I’ve been thinking about this is simple. I’m having to make sure I hit all the consistency notes on Dagger of Elanna. The initial very rough draft was written before I published Sword of Arelion (Sword of the Gods Book 1). What that means is that as I go over this final version before sending it off to my editor, I have to make sure it gels with the first book. One of you caught one consistency error when reading the snippets I’ve posted — I had changed Cait’s rank without meaning to — and I really appreciate it. It is tedious but necessary, as I realized yet again yesterday when I caught another error. It wasn’t major and it is possible no one would have noticed. But I don’t want to put out something that isn’t my best work.
The edits continue. The book will be out next month on schedule. In the meantime, I’m checking and cross-checking to make sure I don’t stumble when I should run.
So, quick question. What were the worst — or funniest — consistency errors you’ve seen in a movie, tv show or book?
I guess it’s now time for me to do a bit of promo.
Witchfire Burning (Eerie Side of the Tracks Book 1) is now available for purchase.
Long before the Others made their existence known to the world, Mossy Creek was their haven. Being from the wrong side of the tracks meant you weren’t what the rest of the world considered “normal”.
Normal was all Quinn O’Donnell wanted from life. Growing up on the “wrong side of the tracks”, she had been the only normal in the family. The moment she was old enough, she left and began life as far from her Texas hometown as possible. Now she has a job she enjoys and a daughter she loves more than life itself. Their life is normal, REALLY normal, until her daughter starts calling forth fire and wind.
Quinn knows they must go back so her mother can help five-year-old Ali learn how to control her new talents. But in Mossy Creek nothing is ever simple. Quinn’s mother has gone missing. Secrets from Quinn’s past start coming back to haunt her.
And the family home is more than a little sentient.
Can Quinn keep everyone — particularly Ali — safe? And will she ever get back her illusion of normalcy?
Witchfire Burning is the start of a new series. However, it takes place in the same town as Slay Bells Ring and some of the same characters are present in both. Both have a little bit of mystery and a little bit of romance. Witchfire adds in an urban fantasy note as well. While it wasn’t a book I had planned when I sat down at the beginning of they year to figure out my publication schedule, it’s one that decided it needed to be written and I had a blast doing it. I hope you guys all enjoy reading about Quinn and company as much as I enjoyed writing about them. Also, for those who prefer print versions, it should be available in approximately two weeks. I’ll make an announcement when that version is ready.