For a long time, I’ve tried to make sense of the stories in my head. What kind of world do they exist in? Are there shared worlds? And I’ve come to the realization that there’s a shared universe, with intersecting branches, but each book exists in it’s own, independent world.
I think of it like a tree, with the tree being my brain, or at least the part of my brain dedicated to storytelling. Everything flows from a single source, the ground the roots are in, and up through the powerhouse of the trunk, but once we get to the branches, everything is on it’s own. So, a story in section A, might share a paranormal creature with a story in section B, but ultimately, each story is in its own dimension, or pocket world.
It makes sense to me. Haha.
I thought once that it would help to have the same world rules for everything in the paranormal sector. The problem is that my ideas didn’t go along with that, and I ended up finding that to be limiting. And stressful. For example, I have a hot mess called the Chaos Series, and it has things in common – intersecting branches – with what I call my Vampire World, but there aren’t any vampires in the Chaos Series. They don’t fit. And witchcraft in the Chaos series is on steroids compared to the witchcraft in the Vampire World.
My current project is in a pocket world in the futuristic sector. I’m not going to tell you guys what I’m doing over there yet as the whole area might implode on itself, but it’s pretty exciting, and thinking of everything as existing in it’s own pocket world is actually helping me out a lot.
I’m no longer beholden to the rules of another world, which allows the magic in the Chaos series to get really dangerous and out of hand. I set myself back, literally a couple of years, trying to get my Chaos stuff to fit in the Vampire World.
It’s not harder to set stories in their own pocket world. It’s actually a lot easier.
Each pocket world has its own set of rules, which you might think would be overwhelming with the number of ideas I have, but it’s actually not. Because I have “sectors” and everything in each sector exists separately, I’m able to quickly figure out what exists in this world and what doesn’t. For example, there are people with supernatural gifts in the current project. Because it’s isolated from everything else in my head, I can easily see that there are no shapeshifters and no vampires, so all I had to figure out is what kind of abilities people have and can they be learned. There are crazy spirits in this world, as well, and part of what makes a pocket world so exciting is that there’s so much potential, and the stories are free to be their own unique thing.
Basically, this gives me the maximum amount of freedom, which is something I’ve realized over the years that I thrive in, which makes historical settings a bit of a struggle. Since I don’t write higher concept fantasy, meaning all my stories are set on earth, mostly as we know it, I feel obligated not to run into any wars and get minor details right or at least close enough to not be distracting, but I’m discovering ways to make the researching fun for me.
While I’m brainstorming, I’m open to all kinds of interference from other stories on the brainstorming level, but compartmentalizing stuff still helps me focus, and it keeps me from trying to force my ideas into boxes they may not fit in.
The funny thing is that I do this organizational thing with my ideas automatically, at least when I’m not overthinking everything half to death. This is why I like the tree analogy though. When future me starts to worry about worldbuilding, I can just remind myself that everything is a pocket world and move on.