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View Full Version : WTF Continuity Errors (moved from Novels to Roundtable)



justinai
01-27-2009, 09:55 PM
I'm not sure this is in the correct forum and feel free to move this if necessary but...

It the past month I have read several books with WTF continuity errors. This has included such faux pas as changing of secondary characters' names from one paragraph to the next, changing of how one character died (in Chapter one he was mauled by a werewolf, at the opening of chapter five it states that he was shot), and even changes to the number of offspring a character had from book 1 to book 2 (without a plausible explanation, like he adopted a six year old or something). And these are books from a MAJOR publisher.

It seems like I am finding errors like this more often from the big publishing houses, that's not even counting the typos and other minor errors. Is anyone else finding this to be the fact, or is it just me?

Because it is seriously making me think I should think twice before buying another book. I hate paying for something that is obviously a flawed, rushed product. And what about the authors? How did they miss these errors?

Okay, I'm off of my soap box...

Kitty Pryde
01-27-2009, 10:19 PM
The most egregious error I have read (okay, it was in a self-pubbed novel, but the author had submitted it to be judged in a literary contest!) was this: In the first paragraph, the dude's prosthetic legs are sitting in a chair near his bed. In the third paragraph, the nursing assistant is MASSAGING THE DUDE'S FEET. Non-existant foot Fail.

As for your troubles, um, go to the library?

scarletpeaches
01-27-2009, 10:26 PM
I spotted an error in book #6 of a series, there the author had changed the 'method of death' of a character who bought the farm in book #2. I mentioned this on her website's forum and asked what had gone wrong; why didn't her editors pick it up?

And seriously, I wasn't trying to cause trouble; it was a genuine WTF moment. A glaring error. In book #2 he'd died in an avalance and in book #6 it had changed to a plane crash...or was it the other way around? Anyway...

The author's excuse reason? You'll love this.

When book #2 was made into a mini-series, they changed it to a plane crash, if I remember correctly, because that was easier to film than an avalanche. When writing book #6, she had 'plane crash' in her mind and mentioned it, as that's what she thought she'd written in book #2!!!

As if that wasn't enough, she talked about 9/11 happening in one book. Then the next one in the series carried on from where the characters left off.

In the year 2000.

justinai
01-27-2009, 11:28 PM
As for your troubles, um, go to the library?


I know, I know. But seriously, I hate waiting for books to come into the public library, and your choices are mostly limited to whatever hits either the NYT bestsellser list or the USA Today best seller list.

Really, my local library has seven copies of Twilight but not a single Chuck Palanuik book (except for Fight Club, which was a really popular movie so it doesn't count)

semilargeintestine
01-27-2009, 11:37 PM
Wow, that's appalling. My public library has all of Palahniuk's stuff, I think. I know they have Survivor and Invisible Monsters (best book ever).

Locusta
01-28-2009, 12:10 AM
I know, I know. But seriously, I hate waiting for books to come into the public library, and your choices are mostly limited to whatever hits either the NYT bestsellser list or the USA Today best seller list.

Really, my local library has seven copies of Twilight but not a single Chuck Palanuik book (except for Fight Club, which was a really popular movie so it doesn't count)

A bit off topic, but most libraries are part of robust interlibrary loan systems and it is usually free. I recommend checking with the reference desk if they could request books for you that way.

Brindle Chase
01-28-2009, 12:32 AM
I'm finding this to be more and more common, especially in the last five years. Apparently the trend is that the author does most of the editing these days and the editor concentrates on getting the book out and marketed. Kinda sad. =(

IceCreamEmpress
01-28-2009, 01:33 AM
It seems like I am finding errors like this more often from the big publishing houses, that's not even counting the typos and other minor errors. Is anyone else finding this to be the fact, or is it just me?

I find lots of these in older books as well. I think there was a brief peak of good copyediting (in the US, between about 1955 and 1985; in the UK, between about 1950 and 1990) and everything before or after is full of errors.

josephwise
01-28-2009, 03:28 AM
Usually, if someone is mauled by a werewolf, they WILL have to be shot eventually.

Red.Ink.Rain
01-28-2009, 03:46 AM
Nothing that a good revision session can't cure! My first draft of FIREBRAND was like that - inconsistency everywhere. But you'd be amazed at what editing can accomplish.

scarletpeaches
01-28-2009, 03:48 AM
Which makes me wonder why certain BIG authors think they're above edits. "The higher they are, the further they fall," and all that. You expect better of 'name' authors.

When you get to be huge, any glaring errors become even more so. You're supposed to get better, but some get lazy.

*sigh*

eyeblink
01-28-2009, 04:03 AM
I can't remember who it was, but it was a Victorian novelist back in the days when novels were serialised - and he forgot that a certain supporting character had died.

(Maybe apocryphal - anyone confirm or deny this?)

justinai
01-28-2009, 04:39 AM
Which makes me wonder why certain BIG authors think they're above edits. "The higher they are, the further they fall," and all that. You expect better of 'name' authors.

When you get to be huge, any glaring errors become even more so. You're supposed to get better, but some get lazy.

*sigh*


My point exactly. Like I said, this was a book from a major publisher. Anything from a small publisher, I would shrug and probably keep reading. But this was a mass market paperback, and it was a USA Today bestseller.

How do you miss a character's name change...in the next paragraph?????

IceCreamEmpress
01-28-2009, 06:12 AM
I can't remember who it was, but it was a Victorian novelist back in the days when novels were serialised - and he forgot that a certain supporting character had died.

(Maybe apocryphal - anyone confirm or deny this?)

I don't remember this, but some of the classic 19th century continuity errors include the color of Emma Bovary's eyes and the first name of Dr. Watson.

Stunted
01-28-2009, 03:20 PM
in Chapter one he was mauled by a werewolf, at the opening of chapter five it states that he was shot


Maybe he was shot by a werewolf.

Broadswordbabe
01-28-2009, 03:38 PM
Robinson Crusoe stripped naked to swim out to the wreckage of his ship - and when he got there, filled his pockets with useful items.

Neat trick.

qwerty
01-28-2009, 03:56 PM
Robinson Crusoe stripped naked to swim out to the wreckage of his ship - and when he got there, filled his pockets with useful items.

Neat trick.

Love it!
http://smileys.on-my-web.com/repository/Laughing/lol-022.gif

Don
01-28-2009, 04:08 PM
Robinson Crusoe stripped naked to swim out to the wreckage of his ship - and when he got there, filled his pockets with useful items.

Neat trick.
It's not widely known, but Robinson Crusoe was a marsupial. :)

Nakhlasmoke
01-28-2009, 04:35 PM
Robinson Crusoe stripped naked to swim out to the wreckage of his ship - and when he got there, filled his pockets with useful items.

Neat trick.


Please. What they neglected to mention was that it was a single, rather small pocket, and it made swimming back a hell of an experience.

Prawn
01-28-2009, 05:05 PM
Please. What they neglected to mention was that it was a single, rather small pocket, and it made swimming back a hell of an experience.

Especially since he was carrying the ship's anchor.

Nakhlasmoke
01-28-2009, 05:14 PM
Especially since he was carrying the ship's anchor.

That brought to mind images you couldn't find even with safe search off.

angeliz2k
01-28-2009, 06:43 PM
In Harry Potter, Slughorn calls Ron Weasley "Rupert". JK Rowling claims it was intentional--which is plausible since Slughorn had a habit of getting Ron's name wrong. I think she might have accidentally been thinking of Rupert Grint (who plays Ron in the movies of course) and put in his name. I think the editors/JK didn't catch it. (I didn't; it had to be pointed out to me.)

Nakhlasmoke
01-28-2009, 06:47 PM
hmm it's completely plausible to me that Slughorn wouldn't remember Ron's name, and JKR using the name Rupert being a bit of a nod to the film crew.

semilargeintestine
01-28-2009, 07:48 PM
I didn't even notice that, but I agree that she probably did it on purpose. And, if she didn't, I've seen much worse in novels (see above rectal anchor smuggling).

Hillgate
01-28-2009, 07:53 PM
Everyone's human and sometimes even if something's passed through a number of editors, proofers etc it's still got the odd error. Films, which carry more financial risk than books, are living proof that continuity errors stem from our fallibility as human beings.

Vomaxx
01-28-2009, 08:00 PM
The foreword to the Penguin Classics translation of War and Peace points out that the author makes six such errors (in characters' ages, passages of time, and changing a silver icon and chain to a gold one). "Tolstoy is guilty of various inaccuracies, of trifling importance in themselves but troubling to the translator....But where the spirit of life is concerned the alembic of Tolstoy's art is sure and unfailing." To err is human.

RJK
01-28-2009, 08:00 PM
One of the best errors in my memory was the first edition of Ringworld, where Larry Niven had the Earth rotating the wrong way in the first chapter. Those books are considered classics and are worth a few $, so check your shelves. I had one, but gave it away before I knew of its value.

50 Foot Ant
01-28-2009, 08:05 PM
One of the best errors in my memory was the first edition of Ringworld, where Larry Niven had the Earth rotating the wrong way in the first chapter. Those books are considered classics and are worth a few $, so check your shelves. I had one, but gave it away before I knew of its value.
Yeah, I remember that. My copy is sitting over there on the shelf.

Long running series are known for those errors. Take "Deathlands" for example, which isn't high art, but man are they fun. They forget who died and how in the nostalgia scenes quite often.

Fin was killed by a laser, NOT a gunshot!

ORION
01-28-2009, 08:05 PM
Hillgate has it right. I can't tell you how many times my book was gone over and errors still appeared. When each edition comes out you have an opportunity to correct them- for example the hardcover of LOTTERY has a few lay-lie tense mistakes and they are corrected in the trade paperback-
I think the sheer increase of books published may just make it seem there are more errors- I don't really notice a huge increase-
And the most diligent proofreader can sometimes miss continuity errors.
There was one in LOTTERY no one has caught- the only reason I know it is my random house Japanese translator got it- that's where a lot of errors are found-
I tend to not worry about it as I know lots of other errors are introduced- it sometimes doesn't have to do with editing so much as introduced error further down in the process...Hey they even misspelled my name in one of the reviews that were put in the back of my book lol!!! Ya gotta just enjoy the story and not worry about the mistakes...I've never found one that prevented me from enjoying a book...

scarletpeaches
01-28-2009, 08:12 PM
Everyone's human and sometimes even if something's passed through a number of editors, proofers etc it's still got the odd error. Films, which carry more financial risk than books, are living proof that continuity errors stem from our fallibility as human beings.

We're not talking about gremlins, natural errors and typos though. We're talking about glaring, monstrous, how the hell could you not catch that? carelessness.

brainstorm77
01-28-2009, 08:52 PM
I spotted an error in book #6 of a series, there the author had changed the 'method of death' of a character who bought the farm in book #2. I mentioned this on her website's forum and asked what had gone wrong; why didn't her editors pick it up?

And seriously, I wasn't trying to cause trouble; it was a genuine WTF moment. A glaring error. In book #2 he'd died in an avalance and in book #6 it had changed to a plane crash...or was it the other way around? Anyway...

The author's excuse reason? You'll love this.

When book #2 was made into a mini-series, they changed it to a plane crash, if I remember correctly, because that was easier to film than an avalanche. When writing book #6, she had 'plane crash' in her mind and mentioned it, as that's what she thought she'd written in book #2!!!

As if that wasn't enough, she talked about 9/11 happening in one book. Then the next one in the series carried on from where the characters left off.

In the year 2000.


I actually laughed out load reading this :)

brainstorm77
01-28-2009, 08:53 PM
Nothing that a good revision session can't cure! My first draft of FIREBRAND was like that - inconsistency everywhere. But you'd be amazed at what editing can accomplish.

Agreed! I'm in the process of a edit now of my finished novel.

brainstorm77
01-28-2009, 08:55 PM
In Harry Potter, Slughorn calls Ron Weasley "Rupert". JK Rowling claims it was intentional--which is plausible since Slughorn had a habit of getting Ron's name wrong. I think she might have accidentally been thinking of Rupert Grint (who plays Ron in the movies of course) and put in his name. I think the editors/JK didn't catch it. (I didn't; it had to be pointed out to me.)

Hahahaha! I'm sure with the money she has pulled in, lying awake at night thinking about mistakes she may have made in her novel she is not!

brainstorm77
01-28-2009, 08:57 PM
Everyone's human and sometimes even if something's passed through a number of editors, proofers etc it's still got the odd error. Films, which carry more financial risk than books, are living proof that continuity errors stem from our fallibility as human beings.

Yes even things like spelling errors get through. I just read a novel by one of the biggie authors and I found three spelling mistakes.

50 Foot Ant
01-28-2009, 10:06 PM
My favorite error...

On the back cover of the book, we misspelled the name of the book.

Jennasis
01-28-2009, 10:37 PM
I live in fear of continuity errors. Since my epiphany last week that I had to scrap and rewrite, I have been in mega note-taking mode. Trying to organize all the minutia and backstory so that everything fits smoothly together. I am the outline queen now!

WriteKnight
01-28-2009, 10:47 PM
Alexandre Dumas' "The Three Musketeers" was written as a serial novel in newspapers, and he has D'Artagnan made a Musketeer twice. (Along with numerous other historical 'errors' he intentionally ignored or bent at will) Still a great novel.

I recall reading The Celestine Prophecy back when it came out, on the insitance of a good intentioned friend that it would 'change my life'. Somewhere in the middle of the novel, the character is looking up at the moon, and remarks on what phase it is in (I forget what it was) but then, in the same paragraph, mentions that someone else on the earth would see the moon at a DIFFERENT PHASE at the same time.

Yeah, I had to force myself to finish the book.

semilargeintestine
01-28-2009, 10:51 PM
Wow. It always blows me away when novels and more frequently movies and tv shows seemingly neglect to do even the slightest bit of research necessary to correct some really glaring errors. I stopped watching Lost the second Jack the "spinal surgeon" started talking about his patient whose nerves began pouring out of her back during an operation. I don't think it was even halfway through the first episode. What kind of drug trip was that guy on when he wrote that crap?

IceCreamEmpress
01-28-2009, 10:55 PM
Wow. It always blows me away when novels and more frequently movies and tv shows seemingly neglect to do even the slightest bit of research necessary to correct some really glaring errors.

I have four words for you: Krakatoa, East of Java.

ideagirl
01-28-2009, 10:56 PM
Usually, if someone is mauled by a werewolf, they WILL have to be shot eventually.

Perhaps the werewolf had a concealed carry firearms permit?
Or perhaps some werewolves can fire bullets from their teeth.

semilargeintestine
01-28-2009, 10:58 PM
I have four words for you: Krakatoa, East of Java.

Haha, nice. I totally forgot about that movie.

ideagirl
01-28-2009, 11:03 PM
I recall reading The Celestine Prophecy back when it came out, on the insitance of a good intentioned friend that it would 'change my life'. Somewhere in the middle of the novel, the character is looking up at the moon, and remarks on what phase it is in (I forget what it was) but then, in the same paragraph, mentions that someone else on the earth would see the moon at a DIFFERENT PHASE at the same time.

Yeah, I had to force myself to finish the book.

Agh! I would too.
Maybe it was just clumsy word choice, though. I think the same moon phases look different in the northern vs. southern hemispheres--basically, the "waxing crescent--full moon--waning crescent" looks like this:
Northern hemisphere: ) O (
Southern hemisphere: ( O )
So the moon's in the same phase (e.g. waxing crescent, first quarter...) but to a person in the southern hemisphere, the moon is "pointing" the opposite way of where it's pointing if you're looking at it from the northern hemisphere at that same moment.

Not to be, uh, confusing or anything. :-)

But yeah, to call that a different phase is stupid. And if the people in the book were NOT located, respectively, in the northern and southern hemispheres, then there's no possible excuse for that mistake...

semilargeintestine
01-28-2009, 11:09 PM
This (http://www.nationmaster.com/encyclopedia/Phases-of-the-Moon) is a good website to explain it in basic terms. But, essentially, you are correct regarding how the moon looks from the two hemispheres.

Jcomp
01-28-2009, 11:30 PM
I have four words for you: Krakatoa, East of Java.

From what I've read, they (allegedly) knew this was a mistake but kept the title the same anyway because "East of Java" sounded more exotic than "West of Java."

eyeblink
01-29-2009, 02:14 AM
There are deliberately misspelled film titles out there - My Beautiful Laundrette, Boyz N The Hood, Pet Sematary etc. But I don't think Francois Truffaut's 1969 film La sirčne du Mississipi was one of the deliberate ones. (It's called Mississippi Mermaid in English.)

Deccydiva
01-29-2009, 02:22 AM
Hillgate has it right. I can't tell you how many times my book was gone over and errors still appeared. When each edition comes out you have an opportunity to correct them- for example the hardcover of LOTTERY has a few lay-lie tense mistakes and they are corrected in the trade paperback-
I think the sheer increase of books published may just make it seem there are more errors- I don't really notice a huge increase-
And the most diligent proofreader can sometimes miss continuity errors.
There was one in LOTTERY no one has caught- the only reason I know it is my random house Japanese translator got it- that's where a lot of errors are found-


Ah... I've just bought a copy of "Lottery" ...

Brindle Chase
01-29-2009, 02:28 AM
Everyone's human and sometimes even if something's passed through a number of editors, proofers etc it's still got the odd error. Films, which carry more financial risk than books, are living proof that continuity errors stem from our fallibility as human beings.

Heaven forbid should someone be human! *lol* Some mistakes are small, some are huge, but they are still made because we are human.

Broadswordbabe
01-29-2009, 02:37 AM
Please. What they neglected to mention was that it was a single, rather small pocket, and it made swimming back a hell of an experience.


Especially since he was carrying the ship's anchor.

Ouch! You guys are Teh Evil.

*wincing*

Is it possible to get Safe Search installed in one's own brain?

ccarver30
01-29-2009, 06:45 AM
Dear Stephenie Meyer,

VAMPIRES CANNOT REPRODUCE. NICE TRY. THEY ARE DEAD, FFS! JUST NO!!

Shweta
01-29-2009, 07:00 AM
Moving to the roundtable :)

Darzian
01-29-2009, 07:48 PM
Dear Stephenie Meyer,

VAMPIRES CANNOT REPRODUCE. NICE TRY. THEY ARE DEAD, FFS! JUST NO!!

:D. And if they can, even a vampire will have a wet dream in a 100 years. Hence 'reserve stock' is lost.....

scarletpeaches
01-29-2009, 07:49 PM
Sperm can only live for a set time once it's...um...expelled. If it's away from the source of life, the man's tadpole factory, it dies.

So explain to me how vampire baby gravy can live inside the dangleberries of what is, in effect, a corpse, for over a century?

Willowmound
01-30-2009, 02:01 AM
If it's a corpse, why is it not rotting?

Red.Ink.Rain
01-30-2009, 02:14 AM
Dear Stephenie Meyer,

VAMPIRES CANNOT REPRODUCE. NICE TRY. THEY ARE DEAD, FFS! JUST NO!!

Lol. I was so waiting for someone to mention Stephenie Meyer.

Cyia
01-30-2009, 02:57 AM
Lol. I was so waiting for someone to mention Stephenie Meyer.


I will not post... I will not post... I will not post...

ccarver30
01-30-2009, 05:59 AM
:D