Retroactive Continuity

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Thread: Retroactive Continuity

  1. #1
    Good Bad Bug Glitchipedia's Avatar
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    Default Retroactive Continuity

    Occasionally, a writer feels a desire to continue a story s/he had originally planned to stand on its own. To make it more interesting, events that originally meant one thing are reinterpreted to mean something that better suits the sequel's plot. This is retroactive continuity—to those in the know, a retcon.

    Note that this is different from deliberate misdirection—in the latter case, the author plans multiple interpretations in advance, before writing the original work, and only the readers are meant to miss the alternate meaning on the first go-round. A retcon is needed when even the author hadn't originally interpreted the events the way the sequel requires.

    So, would you do this? Have you done this? How did you go about it? How would you assess your handling of it? How far do you think this technique can be taken?

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  2. #2
    Me am stalking bug Instrutilus's Avatar
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    Default Re: Retroactive Continuity

    Oh god no. I plan for every possibility. I plan out a story and sequel ideas, then figure out how to make the first both stand alone and how to fit it into a continuity. Nothing has no purpose to me, everything is useful in some manner.

  3. #3
    The Dimension Wizard Flaze's Avatar Moderator
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    Default Re: Retroactive Continuity

    I've used retcons before, mostly because I'm the type of person whose ideas change a lot as he goes. However, I believe that when you use a retcon you have to be carefully cause people can always notice these things, that's why when I use one I try to do it in a way that the retcon isn't that big or influential and can still be part of the plot that's been done. Of course you shouldn't use this technique a lot and I believe it should only be used for little details that could've easily been changed anyways; if it was too big a change then yeah, that I don't recommend doing.

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    Moderator harryheart's Avatar Moderator
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    Default Re: Retroactive Continuity

    I've done this a couple of times as well when I realised, or at least came to the conclusion that my original idea for it wasn't going to be able to carry the weight of the entire plot. I needed to create a new structure behind what was going on with my character's pendant and that meant inserting a new chapter that completely reworked all the chapters before it to fit into this new plot. It also helped clear up misunderstandings I had created and also some character development that desperately needed a neat tie in. It also helped explain why my character had originally done something so agajnst his set ways.

    Admittedly, this didn't occur for a sequel but it occured for the reason of making everything else fit!!
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    Let's get funky! Gama's Avatar Former Head Administrator
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    Default Re: Retroactive Continuity

    Yeah, I've connected things to pre-existing ideas before.

    I find the most important thing to remember is not to overdo the connections. Too often unplanned sequels, prequels, and spin-offs feel too dependent on the original story: it's all well and good to use the same characters and/or world, but I think your aim with an unplanned spin-off should usually be that it should be enjoyable without having read the original, even if it is more enjoyable if you have read the original.

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    Moderator harryheart's Avatar Moderator
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    Default Re: Retroactive Continuity

    Quote Originally Posted by Gama View Post
    I think your aim with an unplanned spin-off should usually be that it should be enjoyable without having read the original, even if it is more enjoyable if you have read the original.
    I have to completely agree! It needs to still be an enjoyable read!!
    Gama likes this.
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