October 24, 2020, 03:35:28 AM

Author Topic: Retconning  (Read 1388 times)

Offline Neveesandeh

« on: March 01, 2019, 09:10:23 AM »
Lately I've got into the habit of wasting my time by watching videos on Youtube about the 'Kingdom Hearts' games, and the levels of retconning in the story of that series are off the chart. The plot has become ridiculously convulated and absurd but from what I've heard there are still people online who dedicate their time to studying the lore.

Video games are a very different medium to books, and one that can get away with a strangely written plot far easier, but it has got me thinking about retconning in long series. For me personally, its am enormous pet peeve. I believe fiction of any kind, but fantasy and sci-fi especially relies on internal consistency and retconning throws all of that out the window.

I would be interested to hear anyone else's thoughts on this, and whether it bothers you as much as it bothers me, or whether you're able to overlook it and not let it ruin your enjoyment of the story.

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Re: Retconning
« Reply #1 on: March 01, 2019, 09:31:27 AM »
Sorry, what's "retconning"?
Is it adding more and more stuff to the world/plot?
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Offline CameronJohnston

Re: Retconning
« Reply #2 on: March 01, 2019, 01:02:41 PM »
It's going back and revising the history after the fact. See pretty much everything JK Rowling has said about Harry Potter characters over the last few years.

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Offline DrNefario

Re: Retconning
« Reply #3 on: March 01, 2019, 01:33:23 PM »
I've never quite known what it stands for - retroactive continuity? - but it's about recasting earlier events based on later ideas. Often it will be a prequel "explaining" (rewriting) the reasons for something in the original work.

I don't really like it, but I can see that it is sometimes necessary, and I tend to be able to just regard things as non-canon if I don't like them.

Highlander 2 is possibly the worst example I can think of, bringing in a whole unnecessary, nonsensical and undermining explanation of the events in Highlander 1. I ignore it.

I can't think of many examples in books. I believe Asimov spent ages trying to make his Foundation and Robots universes fit together, but I haven't read any of the clunky joining books.

Offline dinogenetics

Re: Retconning
« Reply #4 on: March 01, 2019, 02:50:48 PM »
TV shows like Dallas and (more recently) Will & Grace and Roseanne have famously made entire seasons 'dream sequences' for the purpose of ignoring a storyline or bringing back dead characters.

I'd hesitate to call what Rowling does in the Potterverse retconning. Discovering that Dumbledore is gay, for example, does not force me to interpret described events any differently.

Though one could argue that McGonagall's appearance in Fantastic Beasts 2 is a retcon, as the character shouldn't even have been born yet...

Offline Skip

Re: Retconning
« Reply #5 on: March 01, 2019, 04:30:49 PM »
As someone who writes stories that take place at various points over a thousand year span, who has had to invent not just entire cultures but how those cultures interact, I'm not going to criticize the adjustments made by others. Creating worlds and the narratives that drive them is complex. The writers themselves undergo changes, both in their writing skills and in their understanding of the world(s) they created.

Also, as someone who has been a fan of the Marvel universe since the early 1970s, I guess I take that sort of thing in stride. Like any other aspect of creativity, if it's done well then I'm down with it. If it's done poorly, then not so much. It's not the literary device, it's the author to blame.
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Offline Ryan Mueller

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Re: Retconning
« Reply #6 on: March 04, 2019, 01:21:29 AM »
As a writer, this is one of my biggest fears. I don't want to turn into one of those writers who does this. That's part of the reason that I write an entire series before publishing any of it. That way, I can iron out these continuity issues before publishing anything.

Offline Elfy

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Re: Retconning
« Reply #7 on: March 04, 2019, 04:28:08 AM »
Happens a lot in comics. The big publishers (Marvel and DC) tend to 'kill' off major characters to boost flagging sales and then miraculously bring them back to life.
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Offline S. K. Inkslinger

Re: Retconning
« Reply #8 on: March 04, 2019, 06:04:22 AM »
Just saw a joke on the internet today where they asked, "What new bullsh*t about Harry Potter will you post if you had J. K. Rowling's account for a day?"

And someone said, "Dobby actually had a ten inch c*ck."  ;D

Offline J.R. Darewood

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Re: Retconning
« Reply #9 on: March 26, 2019, 07:59:20 AM »

I hate retconning, but I find myself frequently having to go back and re-write earlier part so the story to match changes I thought of later.  It almost makes me feel like maybe I should finish my entire series before releasing book 1....