Sunday, September 14, 2014

What I think about Shared literary universes

I apologize for the span of time between the first post and this one. I have been tremendously busy of late, and I promise from this point on, I will post more frequently.

Today i'm going to talk about something I have been thinking about quite a lot. I'm sure you have all heard the phrase "Shared Universe" by now, what with Marvel, DC, Xmen, Spider-man, and Star wars all getting into the game lately.

(Please note I do not own the above pictures)

Now what is a shared universe? well put very simply, it is a median shared by a group of characters, whose stories and adventures cross over with each other (but that is not a requirement) Now for the sake of this blog post I will not be speaking of cinematic universes, or shared media universes.

 I will be limiting my discourse to the shared universe as it pertains to fiction novels. Now before I begin I will share a few of the more famous Shared literary universes out there.

- Ted Dekker "The Books of history chronicles" Total books in universe 49

- Louis L'Amour "Untitled american history/old west chronicle" Total books in universe 120

- Issac Asimov "Untitled sci fi universe" Total books in series 14-20

These are just a few examples of a shared literary universe. So the question that arose in my mind as I prepare to publish my first novel, is do I want to create a shared universe for all my books, or do I want to keep my novels separate and only join together a few. On one hand the prospect of a shared universe is exciting, as events flow together one book can effect the rest and characters can interact or have chance meetings.

On the other hand, a shared universe can hamper a author. Since you are bound to a certain degree by the genre of the novel that started the shared universe (its rare to have a cross genre universe such as Doctor Who) Also the events in your shared universe must to created with the knowledge that each event may in fact have a big effect on the rest of your story. in the 1950's it was ok for serials (such as TV shows like the lone ranger) to have each episode be stand alone and little that happened in one episode affected the next. But in today's world of fiction cause and effect are the rule, if you ignore events from a early work you may be labeled a bad writer who leaves plot holes.

Now I'm sure many authors like myself have thought long and hard about weather o not to create a shared universe of their work. Its not a easy thing to decide, so here is my advice on the subject. Write good stories first, work on excellent stand alone novels and then if you want to join them together. What you do not want to do is write your novels with the purpose of them joining together, if you do that your work will suffer from to many plot lines being set up or the next novel. So take your time write a good story that stands alone that will draw your reader in, then naturally your story will bloom like a flower into a possible universe.