1. Melzaar the Almighty
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    Melzaar the Almighty Contributing Member Contributor

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    Continuity between stories

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Melzaar the Almighty, Jun 14, 2011.

    Anyone else have something that ties all their stories together, like a location or a person? :D There are some authors who always write stuff set in a certain location, and sometimes even mention things that crop up in other books, just as a nod to the loyal readers. I read one book whose whole plot was about the fact the author had written hundreds of things set in one town previously, and the mess that had made of the place, though none of the other stories acknowledged this past the fact that some of them included the placename. :p

    Or do you have one character who shows up all the time, even just as a bit part character - such as, say in a fantasy, a travelling merchant or something, who always happens to be the guy who sells something to various groups of heroes on their different missions, sometimes even wandering between whole universes and continuities.

    Edit: ooh, ooh, I like this one: using events in previous stories which were news-worthy as the filler stories when a character needs to hear an important bulletin on the news relevant to their story. :p /end edit

    Do you tell the reader these coincidences, or do you keep them to yourself, and leave it for guesswork from your readers?

    I just wrapped my universes up completely so almost all of them aside from 2 high fantasy locations I use are now a part of a whole - just varying degrees of fantasy. :p I've been making fake towns right across England for various things for years now - Nowheresville for my non-fantasy things, which is never named aside from as a joke in one of the fantasy series (in a way that should make it clear it's about that location, and the characters from the fantasy novel think they're all mad there because nothing fantastic ever happens :p), then a whole fictional county, and a string of towns within that for my "could be the real world aside from all the fairies in the background" series. One the named towns is one I stole from a story which contains an alternate history with open fantasy in the real world... But since that's set in the second world war, I have one character cross over from that to the lighter fantasy series, his backstory toned down, but essentially the same guy. And come to think of it, HIS stories have a cross-over character from a similar sort of fantasy-England which nevertheless contains enough logical flaws if you try to make them the same place that the characters can only meet for Christmas specials and other hilarious non-canon adventures.

    I'm not asking if this is a good or bad thing - it's not like the references are heavy-handed, and I don't plan to publish at least half of the things referenced, but they still make me smile, and it sort of gives what I write a reassuring weight, like there is some sort of continuity and shape to it all - a way to make sense of the madness. I just wanna know if other people do it, and how they have, because whenever I do something I think is clever it makes me curious about other people's methods. :p









    (Yes I really do write Christmas specials. I am convinced my life is a TV show. Prove me wrong. :D)
     
  2. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I set many of my stories in an alternate-history version of North America. My world is geographically like North America, but pre-technological, and with about one hundredth of the current population. I like this world because it has almost every kind of climate, every kind of landscape, but with such a low population, there isn't much communication between the areas, so I have a variety of different societies. There's space in this world for a million different stories without having to do much world-building.
     
  3. Melzaar the Almighty
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    Melzaar the Almighty Contributing Member Contributor

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    So do you have any cross-overs between the stories aside from the setting, or does it stay strictly within those isolated bubbles? :)
     
  4. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Many authors set several novels in the same general setting. It may be that the setting is ripe with story potential, or in the case of reality-based settings, it may be a locale the author is intimately familiar with.

    For example, Larry Niven wrote several novels and even more short stories in a future set in what is referred to as Known Space. It featured a rich but consistent set of technologies and alien species, and some of the characters carried over. But he also wrote many novels and stories in completely different settings: The Svet the Time Traveller series, the Warlock stories, the Moties series, all have different sets of rules and histories.

    Iris Johansen's books use varied settings, but characters overlap. There aren't really "series", but all the books are more or less related.

    Most mystery series have the same central character in the same city or town. If the same author has more than one mystery series with a different6 investigator, he or she may or may not call the same city home. Whther those characters are in the same universe varies from one aothor to another. Mystery novelist Linda Barnes has written two separate mystery series, both set in Boston, but there is no overlap between them. Michael Spraggue was an actor from a wealthy family, who also worked on mysteries. Carlotta Carlyle is a licensed private investigator who was formerly a Boston cop and drives a taxi between investigations to help make ends meet.

    Michael Connelly has a few main characters in his mysteries, who mostly operate in and around Los Angeles, and those characters do cross paths.

    You'll probably find as many variations of overlap and persistence of setting as there are writers.
     
  5. Melzaar the Almighty
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    Melzaar the Almighty Contributing Member Contributor

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    I know published authors do it all the time - I was asking how the folk here see it/do it :) Examples of experience rather than just examples.
     
  6. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    In my case, all my stories have had different settings, with one exception, and that was explicitly a sequel.
     
  7. dizzyspell
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    dizzyspell Active Member

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    I haven't done this before, however I had an idea the other day for a not-really-but-kind-of-a-sequel to what I'm writing now.

    It's about one of my minor characters who turns out to be pretty awesome by the end, but it would be a completely seperate novel than the first book, if I wrote it.

    I think it's quite a cool idea, actually, having that sort of overlap.
     
  8. cruciFICTION
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    cruciFICTION Contributing Member Contributor

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    In the first piece I wrote that was actually good (Outwards, this Sunset, 2009), I had a character who was a degenerating vampire (essentially just drying up mentally and physically until he pre much just collapsed). In 2010, I wrote a piece (Bedlam) set in a mental asylum. A major supporting character notices (with no real alarm), one of the patients is like that vampire (they notice the massive chunk of flesh missing from the neck, et cetera). It's not the same guy, but it's a nod in that direction.

    After that, I began developing the town of Paladin, New York, but then I realised that I really didn't give that much of a **** about it. I've reused the setting for Bedlam (an asylum in Paladin) a couple of times, but I overplanned those stories and they didn't amount to anything.

    I do my best work when there's no static location mentioned or named; when it could be in any city at any time, but with hypothetical buildings.
     
  9. Tesoro
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    Tesoro Contributing Member Contributor

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    I just realised I do that too; all three of my stories has connections to a certain place, even though it is not the actual setting of the novels (just for one of them), in the others there is one character who lives there and another that mention that place and plan to go there. I don't even know if that was subconscious, maybe it's just because it's a place I think i'd like, that Im curious about... :) I think it's ok. one writer I have read several books from seem to always connect one person from the previous book to the story, but in that case it just annoyed me because I never liked those characters and their appearance seemed not to have any significant reason, it was just for the sake of appearing, which sems a little meaningless to me.
     
  10. spklvr
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    spklvr Contributing Member Contributor

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    I have a world I spent so much time creating, I figured I should reuse it some. Though I have written one whole novel lenght story, and planned two sequals about the same main character, the stories not involving her are all short stories. And most of them I used to explore the history of the world.

    Even if what I write is fantasy, I almost always set the story in the real world, in real locations. I reuse the same creatures and my witches and wizards magical abilities work the same way. And some characters cross over.
     
  11. Sang Hee
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    Sang Hee Contributing Member

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    I think this sort of guesting elements and crossovers are pretty cool if done properly. Sometimes it doesn't even have to be the same character or a thing, it could just be a name or something. Basically by doing this you'll make your own trademark.
    If you write a sci-fi book and then that book can be seen in an episode of a tv-series from the real world that you also write then it's cool.
     

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