January 3rd, 2012


Continuity in fiction - how important is it to you?

Today's post is from author Mara Ismine marasmine who talks about being an unashamed detail freak :).


Hi everyone,

There's a giveaway chance at the end!

Normally I don't have a problem blathering on about almost any subject. So here I am with a free pass to spread the blathering all over Clare's blog and can I pick a subject? No, of course I can't.

So it'll not only be blathering, but unconnected blathering on different subjects. You have been warned!

I finished the first draft of a novel in November after a couple of years poking at it and should have spent December in edits because there are several continuity errors that I know are there (a backpack moves between two bedrooms and is always in the wrong one even when it has been put in the right one) and probably even more that I haven't spotted yet, not to mention the typos. Did you spot the 'should have'? I did do a bit of editing, but the holiday season, and work, interfered and I still have a long way to go.

I tend to be a bit of a detail freak and continuity errors can throw me right out of a story when I am reading. I end up searching for proof and going back through what I've already read to see if the error is in the writing or just in my reading. Most of the time the detail isn't that important - it doesn't really matter if the bathroom door is on the left or the right, does it? Unfortunately to my brain it does matter and I will fret about things like that.

Of course some continuity errors do matter very much. Those would be the really big ones where a character or situation changes dramatically and I've read enough of those, including mine, to irritate me immensely.

I do have a lot of sympathy for authors who write themselves into a corner - I know just how it feels - but you can't just change the rules of a story to get out of a sticky corner. And all stories have rules, even if just those that the characters live by. If a character has strong beliefs - about what is right or wrong, religious doctrine, morals, or anything else that gives them a line in the sand that they won't cross - then if they do decide to cross that line for love the decision should be explained and take more than five seconds.

That sounds simple enough, but it is not so simple to do. My characters are particularly uncooperative when I give them some trauma or strong belief that makes it difficult for them to accept the relationship the story is building and they tend to just roll over when it comes to the crucial point and be sensible.

"Just because I've always been irrationally terrified of small birds, doesn't mean that I can't move in with X and his collection of rare finches that live in his bedroom; being scared of small birds is silly so I will get over it right now because I love X."

"Just because my life has been dedicated to rare finches and an innovative captive breeding scheme doesn't mean I won't get rid of all the birds and work with rabbits instead. I know Y is terrified of the birds and I love Y."

Romance isn't about being sensible; and getting over an irrational fear 'right now' isn't a satisfactory solution, neither is getting rid of the birds. This is a silly example, but I'm sure you've come across something similar in your reading.

I always feel cheated when an author uses something like that to produce a happy ending. Most of the enjoyment of a romance, for me, is seeing how the characters will get to that happy ending in a believable way. For X and Y a more satisfying ending (for me) would be if they acknowledged the problem, didn't move in together just yet and worked on a compromise - X could reduce the number of birds he keeps at home, particularly in the bedroom; Y could work on his fear, with professional help if necessary, and try to tolerate a single bird in the room before working his way up to a flock.

I've always hated the love triangle in the King Arthur myths because there is no way to resolve it within the rules of the courtly behaviour that is the backbone of the story. All three of them suffer, even in the most creative of rewrites. The only way you can offer them a happy ending is to transport them to a modern setting or a fantasy world where threesomes are acceptable. But those solutions still feel like cheating even when done very well. Obviously I'm not the only one to worry about Art, Gwen and Lance!

Modern writers aren't so bound by those restrictions of duty and are expected to plan for a happy ending. But sometimes they still fall afoul of the requirements of duty and paint themselves into one of those sticky corners. Can you tell I read one like that this year? I wasn't happy with the about face of the duty-bound character - in fact I was spitting angry about it - so I won't risk buying another book by that author.

This has been rather negative so far and I've had a bit of a rant about what turns me off stories, so maybe I should try talking about what keeps me turning the page and coming back for more.

That is a lot more difficult to define because I don't analyse my enjoyment as closely as my dissatisfaction. A good story will draw me in with distinct characters and fast paced action and I will become so lost in the story that I can't stop reading and don't notice typos, wrongly used words or continuity errors. When I find an author who can do that I will devour their back list and whine for more.

See? Not a lot of detail about what or why I like something. Need I mention that Clare is one of those authors? :)

May you all find new-to-you authors in 2012. Happy reading!

And because this is supposed to be a bit of promo for my writing you can check out my Goodreads page HERE.

A random commenter will get a free copy of my Christmas story The Joy of Christmas Shopping.
(winner to be announced at the end of the month, so keep following the blog!)

Happy New Year from


From Clare:
Like to stretch your writing fingers after Christmas' excesses? Fancy writing something for the visitors this month? It can be anything from a flashfic 3 sentences to a drabble of 100 or so, or even more. Any genre, any theme, any rating, any character(s). Maybe ones you already love, maybe the chance to try on a new character for size.

I'm holding a FREE FICTION DAY on the 28th, so send me new fiction - links to your existing work also welcome! - to clarelondon11 AT yahoo.co.uk and I'll post it all then :).


FOLLOW the Birthday Blog so far:
Jan 01: luscious_words shares some fabulous icons.
Jan 02: Jordan Castillo Price shares her experience of re-releasing books.

Check up on: Prior years fun HERE and
The 2012 Guest schedule HERE.

Want to join in but missed the original call? Email me at clarelondon11 AT yahoo.co.uk and I'll happily find you a space ♥

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