Sorry about that title, I’m a huge fan of alliteration.
To take a break about all the ‘me’ stuff this so far this week I thought I would take a minute to talk about …er… universal truths. No, wait. I mean I want to talk about me some more.
I was thinking about how blind I can be to the quality of my own writing and then it hit me - today is my birthday. I forgot all about it and there it is. I just got a whole bunch older today.
How detailed is it? I have this timeline that I started a long time ago. It goes from the moment of creation all the way into the deep future. I have these cool little points to indicate major events that happen, who they happened to, and so on. The thing is, it’s all backstory. I don’t have any real intention of having that timeline ever make its way into my created universe. So far, I’ve written a draft of a novel, the self-published novelette I’ve been pimping for the past two and a half weeks, my current novella, and another short story, all within this larger tapestry I’ve created.
So I wonder, when is it a Tolkeinesque thing of beautiful worldbuilding and when is it a giant mess? Stephen King has said previously that all his books (or maybe it was most of them) are all related through the Dark Tower novels, Larry Niven had all those Known Space novels, which included his Ringworld novels and his Man Kzin wars, so there was tons to explore. Scott Sigler tells all his stories in a single shared universe, his is very impressive to me because the tone and subject matter of his novels can be so different – he has modern day techno horror books and far future YA football stories, and they all share a common history.
I think it’s great, I love that I can read a novel, enjoy it, then pick up another story, set centuries apart in time, separated by vast distances, and have characters that are often unaware of one another each tell their self-contained tales, all while unveiling something much larger.
Oh, I guess Star Wars may count too – but with the number of writers and properties involved I’m not sure that’s good for my example… they just aren’t the creations of a single individual anymore.
So, that’s what I want to create, that larger universe that feels so real, that has its own history, so many things happening off stage that the reader just knows the author (me) has it all worked out – and it will prove to be amazing once the whole thing is made known.
|You can't read that can you? Because this is the entire content of my brain|
Big dreams, too ambitious perhaps. So there I am, writing happily away on my novella and it hits me, how much of this backstory is necessary for the reader to understand enough to enjoy it. Then a second revelation hits me. Are the characters and conflict even interesting enough in their own right to carry this story anyway? I mean, I’d hate to figure out that my 20,000 word story contains an 18,000 word long infodump with people staring into the distance and eating rabbit stew. Hmmm… I need perspective.
So, I think I’ll take the advice of many a writer, including Stephen King, and put this one in a drawer for a while after I finish. See how it feels when I read it again later.
I got some other stuff I need to be doing anyway.