Work-In-Progress,  Writing Journey,  Writing World

Writer Life: Pocket Worlds

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.


  • Michelle Athy

    This sounds very complicated and like something that would drive me nuts. I like working within some parameters of facts (even if the FrankenIdea is twisting some history, so it’s alternate history). So basically, instead of universal rules across the world, you have an overarching world with segments which have different fantasy rules?

    • Krystal Jane

      I tried so hard to make it simple! I failed. Haha. But basically everything is in its own world. Reminding myself of that helps me focus and keeps me from getting overwhelmed, especially in cases where the rules for witchcraft are the same. It’s a reminder that it doesn’t matter if they are the same. The stories still exist in their own separate worlds. It keeps me from getting confused while I’m brainstorming.

  • Tonja Drecker

    That’s too much for my poor head. I’ve never thought about it much. Each story is its own tale, and each world that surrounds them too. I only worry about keeping the rules of each world in each tale logical–well, logical in the sense that they fit to that world. But I love your tree imagery and the idea of pocket worlds. I guess they do each slide into their own pocket 🙂

    • Krystal Jane

      Yeah. I totally failed in explaining it. I don’t worry about it at all. I used to get confused, because sometimes supernatural elements are similar, but I see everything as existing in its own bubble now, so that confusion doesn’t happen anymore. The only exception are my vampire stories. There’s never anything to worry about there. So when elements are similar, if it’s not in that world, I develop it independently out of the gate, and it saves me a lot of stress, regardless of any similarities I run into.

  • Kristy A.

    I do something similar. I like think of each story as existing in alternate dimension, which confuses some people when I talk about it so I started calling everything alt-history, which somehow makes more sense to people, especially since I write romance. I like to say I write alt-history romance. 🙂 So I get it. It definitely helps to separate the ideas when they’re not sequels or companion books.

    • Krystal Jane

      Alt-History Romance sounds really cool! 😀 Alternate dimensions makes sense to me, but I say things to people all the time that sound crazy. Lol!

  • Jodi Perkins (@Perkjo)

    I like the idea of examining our stories’ worlds in context of them existing as one universe! That’s kinda cool. Though I think mine ends up looking more like a twisted bramble of tangled thorns, unlike your nice tree.

    • Krystal Jane

      Right! I used to have a twisted maze in my head, but I can find things a lot faster now. I started doing this a few years ago to help me keep the futuristic stories separate from my regular paranormal stories.

  • Thea Landen

    I’ve sometimes had the same thoughts, but then most of the time it often comes back to “What version of Earth is this?” Even with sci-fi, assuming that it’s far in the future, there’s plenty that can happen to Earth in the intervening years. 😉 So I guess if you look at it like that, all of my stories don’t necessarily take place in the same universe. BUT! Now that I’m thinking about it, I’m wondering if I’ve ever written anything that would directly contradict them happening in the same universe.

    And now we’re going in circles and I’m going to give myself a headache.

    • Krystal Jane

      Lol! I can very easily give myself a headache if I think about things too much. I have a bunch of alternate versions of Earth, like “what if” scenarios that will have things super different in the future. Technically, that wouldn’t be in the same universe, but I feel like story land doesn’t abide by the rules of real life!

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