Tweet of the Day: The Four Types of Character Flaws
One of the many problems of a longrunner is that keeping everything in continuity can become a bit of a hassle. Enter the Call Back, one of many ways a writer can acknowledge past events in-universe. But this is more than just a simple mention, the Call Back uses a past element in the current storyline, thus keeping it relevant to the ongoing story. In fact, one of my pet peeves against longrunners is the failure to use this trope effectively.
What happens on your popular sci-fi show when the teleporter malfunctions again (why don’t they find a safer alternative is beyond me, but hey, drama)? Often they come up with a convoluted, techno-babble filled method to fix it, ignoring every other time they had a similar problem. A call back to an earlier episode when they had a problem with the same technology might help them fix this in a simpler way or even avoid the problem all together. Doing this robs the narrative of weight because it lacks a sense of history. Things happen and then are quickly (and conveniently) forgotten.
So next time you are in a bind, oh gentle writer, remember to do a little Call Back to your past writing.