So important in writing and in movies and in TV
I’ve just finished watching a really good episode of Casualty. This TV show has been around for as long as I can remember, and I’ve always loved it. First, I watched it with my parents, and then with my sister (from another), and then with my parents and my sister.
This show has been a part of my life for so long, and I’ve always enjoyed it, except for one fatal flaw, which has always detracted from the overall viewing experience.
This seemingly small issue seems to creep into every part of television, and movies. One of the ones that is most memorable to me, is the small matter of the shot glasses in the movie Coyote Ugly (which is one of my all time favourites, btw). In the first shot, the glasses are set out in two rows of six glasses. The barmaid twirls the liquor bottles in her hands and then (in the next shot) proceeds to pour the liquid into one row of twelve glasses. Now, I must apologise, if you, too, love the movie and now have the image stuck in your head, too, but you get where I’m going with this…
As writers, we are told time and time again that continuity is key. It is all important, because an error of surprisingly small magnitude can cause very real shockwaves in the reader. Something tiny, such as a misplaced room, or character, can take the reader’s attention right off the story they’re reading, and make them wonder if they’ve stepped into the twilight zone.
Casualty seems to make these kinds of mistake more often than most, and I am constantly wondering whether their continuity editor is actually a two year old child (although trying to distract my two year old niece from the pen she wants to colour with, but isn’t allowed to have, makes me think that she would actually do a better job than the person currently employed).
Tonight’s episode was emotional, and at times, distressing, and the acting was brilliant, but during one of the most crucial scenes, a small, and totally irrelevant continuity error jarred me so much that I was distracted from the action.
In this scene, Alisha, was preparing to chop carrots on the chopping board in the kitchen, when someone started banging on the door. She stops. Puts down the knife and goes to answer it, and on her return to the kitchen; on the chopping board: mushrooms!!
Yes! I typed that right, and yes, I am aware of how petty I sound, but as a writer, this sort of sh*t is drummed into you over and over again and it really really annoys me when something this stupid drags me away from what’s important — the story, and the characters, and the acting.
There have been many continuity errors over the years, and not just in Casualty. Just google “continuity errors in movies and tv” or click that quote and it’ll take you right there. The thing is, surely this is why they employ continuity editors, and if they aren’t doing their job, then really, why are they being paid?
When writing a novel, or short story, or pretty much anything, writers have to constantly be aware of these issues. We read and re-read. We edit, and we edit some more, before reading again. This is what we do, because it is our job.
We don’t want to spend hours writing something, to only find out that there are some silly errors that take the reader’s attention, and drag them away from the story.
So, if we can do it as a single person, probably being paid peanuts (if even at all), then why can’t someone, who is being paid, and whose singular purpose on the project is to notice these and correct them, actually follow through and do their job properly?!
Li Carter is a writer, artist and crafter. She lives in South Wales, UK, with her family, and five rescue dogs. She’s on Twitter @rbcreativeli , Facebook: Rainbow Butterfly Creative, and Instagram @rainbowbutterflycreative and is the author of My Only True Friend: The Beginning. She is currently working on a new series titled The QuickSilver Chronicles. She is the original Rainbow Butterfly, and wants to fill an ever darkening world with a little bit of beauty and creativity.