This week, we’re finally getting to kick off the summer movie season with Avengers: Infinity War. I am not a comic books person, but over the past ten years I’ve come to admire the Marvel movies for a few reasons — namely the continuity factor across al the movies. So I want to break down how Marvel movies are doing continuity right and how you can do the same across all your books.
How Marvel Movies are Doing Continuity Right
I know world building is a big thing in sci-fi and fantasy novels, and rightly so. But have you thought about world building in other genres? You should have, especially because I wrote a post about it a few months ago! I know that the Marvel movies are a meshing of all these different genres, but they do a really great job of sticking to the story – the overall story.
Think about Ant-Man, there are multiple jokes about Tony Stark and The Avengers. And at the time, they have nothing to do with one another (really) besides living in the same universe. Or during Captain America: Civil War, where the Secretary asks if they know where Bruce Banner or Thor is. In Thor: Ragnarok, Bruce Banner ends up wearing Tony Stark’s clothes when
Even the characters who don’t appear in the movie can make an appearance in the storyline.
Details are a huge part of keeping up with continuity. Remembering things that little but add to the characters. The little details can make or break you if you don’t keep up with them!
And you can do this for your books, even when they aren’t in the same series. Meg Cabot (she wrote The Princess Diaries) has done this before. I believe it was in Ready or Not where she name drops about half of the characters she was working on at the time. It doesn’t take a lot to build continuity between all your books (or in Marvel’s case – the movies).
How You Can Do Continuity Right
These details are especially important if you’re writing a series. Your characters change and adapt to the things you throw at them as the storyteller.
Life is connected in a lot of different ways. You never know when you’ll find weird connections between people, and I think adding this little flair to books gives them another sense of reliability.
One thing you can really take from the Marvel movies is that details and your past matter. Just because something you wrote in one book is in the past, don’t change the backstory in the second or third book. Does this mean a little more work in getting the details correct? Well, yes, it does. But in the long term, it is completely worth it.
If you’re worried about keeping track of all your details in the sake of continuity, take notes as you go through the manuscript. I’ve got a post coming up about that coming soon, but also use the Evernote templates for characters and settings. When you’re working with a character or plot detail, keep those notes open so you can stay accurate and keep details of your story.
While continuity is critical to a single book series, you can still add continuity to separate book series. I mentioned Meg Cabot earlier, but the short stories I’m working on? I think it would be a lot of fun to have Emily, the main character in this story, eventually meet Cassie. That continuity builds in a bigger world for all your characters to live in.
While you may think readers will miss details, taking time to incorporate them into your book will thrill your fans. The next time you go to a Marvel movie, take some notes on what they’ve carried throughout the whole series.
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