Sunday, January 13, 2013

Continuity - a little bit goes a long way



  1. The unbroken and consistent existence or operation of something over a period of time.
  2. A state of stability and the absence of disruption.

Continuity is so important in writing and sometimes people don't even acknowledge that. When you incorporate continuity into your writing, it makes the text more believable and thickens your plot. Heck, you might even get a few extra words in there.

If you want to know who the King of continuity is, it's this guy:

This is Steven Moffat, and for those who do not live in the UK or have never seen a recent episode of Doctor Who, you might not know the importance of this man in most people's lives.

Mr Moffat is the current writer for Doctor Who and 'always has been' writer of BBC's Sherlock along with Mark Gatiss. 

But we all call him Satan. 

I would say that it's nothing personal, but I would be lying. In England, along with the sound of police sirens and our national anthem, you can hear people screaming 'MOFFATTT!' from their living rooms. 

Why this madness you may ask?

He takes amazing shows and makes them ten times more amazing. He creates characters which are very hard to find in the greatest novels and then throws them off the tallest buildings - then proceeds to bring them back to life.

Yes, even the mortal ones.

But what really gets to us Moffat Worshippers, the thing that makes anything he touches turn to gold, is his use of continuity.

I don't mean continuity in actually shooting the show, because of course when you do so much filming in public places the continuity can never be perfect. I actually mean the continuity in the storylines, and how they carry on through the other episodes. The little things like having someone mention their last conversation in another episode or incorporating a bit of Sherlock in to an episode of Doctor Who.

Watch any Sherlock episode or any recent episode of Doctor Who, and you will know exactly what I'm talking about.

An accurate representation of the common reaction to a scene Moffat wrote

An accurate representation of Moffat's reaction to our reactions

I guess what I'm trying to say is that in your own writing you need continuity, and paying attention to detail is so important if you are writing a series. 

Know your plot inside out. Have enough knowledge of your own fiction that when someone tries to ask you about it, you can answer those questions like a quick fire round of a game show. If you know enough about your book to incorporate the tiniest things back in to it at some point, your readers will thank you.

A lot of people think that young readers will easily forget the finer details, but thanks to social networking sites they are easier to remember than ever before. If there isn't a gif set about it on Tumblr then it isn't small enough.

The moral of this story?

Young Adults LOVE continuity.

And they have a love-hate relationship with Steven Moffat.

Continue to be happy!
The Book Critic x


  1. Love love love this post. Granted, I've only watched Sherlock (don't worry, Dr. Who is next on my Must Obsessively Watch list), but it really is the continuity that makes Sherlock so damn awesome. The running jokes, the way things carry over from episode to episode is awesome and one of the reasons I watched all of Sherlock in three days.

    1. Thank you very much for your kind words! The joke thing also ties in with what I mean.

      And I also watched the whole of Sherlock in a short space of time :)

  2. Great reminder that the details matter, and there are ways to make the most of them!

  3. Didn't someone once say "Dog is in the details?"
    I love details in a story, and I find I remember the smallest most seemingly insignificant ones for a long time, while I might forget the underlying conflict or huge plot-line.
    Thanks for the post. Good read.
    Now I must go prove I am not a robot.
    ~Just Jill

    1. I always find that the smallest details stick in my head for the longest time too! Thank you for your kind comment :)