Fictioneering – The Power of Consistency

World building is hard at the best of times, creating news worlds, rules people, inventing a new society with all it rules is quite a challenge. As a writer this world there for the reader to discover in stories and through characters. This world need to be consistent in all the stories that are written, to assume the reader won’t notice small details is dangerous – because they will!

This kind of thing seems to happen more in TV I notice where a large amount of stories are needed. Let’s take Star Trek as an example, they’re good friends the Klingons have taken out their warp drive and they have to rely on only impulse drive.

The Starship Enterprise (No ownership claimed on image)

The impulse drive is able to take the Enterprise across a solar system in hours normally but suddenly in this case the story needs it to limp for weeks to the nearest worl, so limp it will.

It’s not limited to this – in a recent rather well known film that’s recently been released called Avengers Endgame (you may have heard of it) I noticed some inconsistency.

(Not really spoilers here but just in case look away now.)

Marvel Studios’ AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR..Thanos (Josh Brolin)..Photo: Film Frame..©Marvel Studios 2018

My problem is this, one minute a few of the Avengers turn up and quickly and easily restrain and disable the purple ogre. But later in the film we’ve got Captain America, Thor, Iron Man, Captain Marvel and a load of them on his and guess what? The little shit stands there laughing it off nearly.


Inconsistencies are really irritating! They just are, and while a writer can never represent their world perfectly avoiding them is a must is possible! In a podcast I was listening to recently Andy Weir the author of the Martian expressed this saying that anything can happen in the world of Sci-Fi, if you can have faster than light drive or whatever it’s cool – but make sure that your story is consistent with how your world works.

So here’s a question – do you consider consistency in your world building? Do you have rules and limitations and do you know them so you can stick to them?

Or do you wing it?


Planet Simon

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17 thoughts on “Fictioneering – The Power of Consistency

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  1. Interesting question Simon, I don’t build worlds … still struggling to live in this one!

    But consistency is crucial in our daily lives! Most especially with parenting … if you’re not good at it the kid can choose to do the opposite, if you excel they will choose to emulate. But inconsistency will only confuse them and they will struggle outside the home too.

    Like

  2. I’m pretty meticulous when it comes to consistency–I go back to each chapter every time I introduce a new element to make sure everything lines up. Speaking of inconsistencies, did you see the Starbucks cup that made an appearance on Game of Thrones?!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Very, very sound and timely post Simon.
    Yes indeed World Building; the laws therein and the folk who survive more then one chapter.
    Consistency and inconsistency are both full of little traps to send the author sprawling on face or other end.
    Too much of either requires a great deal of skill. Too much consistency and things get dull as the writer keeps stopping off on character development to back-check on something they wrote thirty pages back on Laws of Physics . Too much inconsistency and…..well The Marx Brothers, The Three Stooges and Warner Brothers original Looney Tunes did it better.
    A little bit of inconsistency is a spice to make the reader sit up, and go ‘Uhh!’ …as long as you have an explanation down the line, but you have to tease it out. Someone standing up and giving a two paragraph speech just scream ‘Cop-out!’
    Working in The Fantasy World does give the writer a little bit of leeway….sometimes…. but it’s still important to pay some respects to ‘Laws’. I like to work in the fuzzy, foggy area where folk ‘know’ about (in my case) The Ethereal/Stommigheid (has many names) and they ‘know’ how to use it, to a certain extent either by machine of by gift, but they still don’t know its true Nature or Origin. And there is no, I repeat, elderly old bore who stands up and takes up several paragraphs explaining the whole damn thing to a bunch of suddenly attentive main characters. Nor three handy volumes which details ‘The Life The Universe and Everything’.
    In my defence I cite our progress and knowledge of many things scientific….we are still only just beginning.
    Consistency and Inconsistency in characters is an entirely different subject as that treads on the area of Human Nature, compared with which Quantum Mechanics is a doddle.
    OK, I’m done.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Ah this is one of my pet peeves! Finding inconsistencies in stories, no matter the genre. I can’t believe with all the editors and other resources major players like Marvel and Paramount have at their disposal that this glaring kind of thing would show up. The same with novel writing: if the reader can find the inconsistency, the writer or editor should too! Excellent post, Simon!

    Liked by 1 person

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