Six LDS Writers and A Frog

Friday, January 29, 2010

Going in a Different Direction -- Guest Blog by Susan Corpany

by Susan Corpany

In television there is someone known as “the continuity guy.” It is his job to make sure the desk in the second scene still has all the same accessories it had in the previous scene. He makes sure that if the daughter took a blue backpack to school, she doesn’t come home with a green one. It would be great to have a “continuity guy” when writing a novel, wouldn’t it?

“Did you notice that Jason bought the movie tickets twice?”

“Three chapters ago, you said his eyes were blue. When did they become green?”

“You said it was a gas fireplace, but John just threw on a log.”

I wrote a great chapter recently, and I was so caught up in the witty dialogue that someone else had to point out to me that the couple ordered dinner and paid the check at the end but that their dinner never came.

Now that television shows come out on DVD, I have noticed that though they may have the guy making sure the lamp is in the same place in the living room, they allow themselves a lot more leeway than we are allowed as writers of books. For example, I recently watched a Cheers rerun in which the character of Frasier stated that his father was deceased. When the sitcom Frasier was developed as a spin-off, they apparently resurrected his father and he became a retired police officer. Interesting. I thought they only did that on soap operas.

I have CDs of all the seasons of Everybody Loves Raymond. Somewhere around season two or three, the family dog just kind of disappears. No explanation. No dog funeral. Was there was a salary dispute that ended badly? Did the writers forget there was a dog? I will never know.

I’ve been watching old episodes of The Bob Newhart Show. In one episode their neighbor convinces a woman to call off her marriage because he has fallen in love with her. Then by the next episode he is a free-wheeling bachelor once again. Why am I then not allowed to let a subplot dangle eternally? If they weren’t going to show an ongoing romance, at least for a few episodes, we should have perhaps seen an episode where he opened the door and caught the full fury of her wrath. “I gave up Jim for you???”

Remember how Family Ties started out with a huge emphasis on the former-hippie status of the parents? After a few seasons, the opening was retooled and they lost their love beads. The bell bottoms were put to rest. Their history changed or was forgotten.

When asked, the television folks always have a simple explanation. “We decided to go in a different direction.” Why aren’t writers allowed to use this excuse to explain the discrepancies in our writing? It would make life so much easier. No editing with a fine-tooth comb. No stressful rewrites. No need to read the manuscript a last eight-seven times before turning it over to the publisher.

And where is my continuity guy?

Susan Corpany is a full-time wife, mother, hostess for her Hawaiian guest home, and author. In her "spare" time, she is a frequent contributer to Meridian Magazine. Visit her website HERE. Look for a another hilarious (and touching) novel coming soon! (At least it will be if people like me quit asking her for favors and let her finish the edit!)


At 1/29/2010 4:11 PM, Blogger L.T. Elliot said...

I'd like a continuity guy for my personal life AND my writing. Any volunteers?

At 1/29/2010 6:23 PM, Blogger Jon Spell said...

In the 9th or 10th season of Friends, Rachel has a relationship with a guy that ends abruptly, in that we never see or hear about him again. I feel like it was around the time when we weren't sure if that was going to be the last season or not.

(We're watching them all on DVD now, so it'll be interesting to see if there were deleted scenes that cover it.)

Based on the comments my wife makes, I think one thing that would really help authors out is to have a calendar with scene dates. That way, you don't have a high school football game on Friday, then leave on a four-day roadtrip, then attend Sacrament meeting. =)

At 1/29/2010 8:02 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Family Matters was the worst - they mysteriously lost a whole daughter!!

At 1/29/2010 8:24 PM, Blogger Kerry Blair said...

Anon: That's exactly what I was going to say! Also Happy Days. They lost their firstborn son and absolutely nobody (but thousands of viewers) noticed. I mean, I can understand going a different direction, but really . . .

Jon: Excellent idea! I think every writer loses track of time, and sometimes even the best editors miss it. Some of us need calendars for every scene, however. I'm reading a book by Stephen King in which a character "finishes off" a bottle of pop and then continues to sip from it for the rest of the scene. Two or three times, at least. It was a little crazifying and definitely distracting.

LT: From what I've read of your work, you need no help whatsoever in the writing department. Your blog this week was brilliant. I wrote to ask if I could please re-publish it here, but then realized we largely share readership. Anyway, I'm a big fan! Thanks so much for your support and, especially, sharing your gift. It's a joy and an honor to have you hanging out around here.

At 2/02/2010 7:18 PM, Blogger UTMomof4 said...

What I hate is when a show I get into has a great cliffhanger for a season ender, but then it doesn't get picked up for another season. So you are forever wondering what happened!


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