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I’m writing a science fiction short called The Dog Walker and as an intro I have my dog walker, a robot named RB43, retrieve a small dog lead from a cupboard where the dog’s food and stuff are all kept.

As the story progresses we are introduced to two characters, RB43 and Prince, a golden retriever. The story initially examines the Robot-Pet relationship. Robot-Human interaction comes later.

But, anyone who knows their dogs will realise a golden retriever is a big dog, even as a puppy, which Prince isn’t. And there we have a situation that many writers either ignore or simply fail to realise is a potential problem- continuity.

Continuity is a big thing in TV and film production. The continuity supervisor in a film crew oversees the continuity of the film and that includes, hair, wardrobe, props, sets and the actions of the characters through scenes. But it seems to have taken a back seat these days in the minds of many authors. I am no doubt guilty of failing to realise I’ve made a mistake as I was about to in this story. RB43 retrieved a small dog lead from a cupboard. A small lead for a big dog?

It may seem like a very insignificant error and it is, but the point I’m trying to make is that unless you are aware of continuity issues you may find your readers suddenly laughing at a critical and serious part of your book. I did when a book I’m reading had a character pick up a gate post and hit his opponent with a… a pick-axe handle? What? At the very least, a small mistake in continuity can lead to a pause in reading that gets the reader confused. Once you’ve lost your reader, it may be hard to get them back.

Copyright © Tom Kane 2019

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