Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Linking Stories

For many years, Stargate: SG1 was a relatively popular television show. Eventually, the producers spun off Stargate: Atlantis. The two shows were very different and very much alike. On the DVD special features for one season, someone related to the shows made the comment that they viewed the shows as taking place in the same universe. Just because things are happening on Atlantis and we can’t see Stargate Command doesn’t mean that things aren’t happening back there.

When we think of our stories as taking place within the same universe, it gives our backstory more depth. Even if books aren’t part of the same series, tying the story back to another book gives the reader the sense that the universe of our story is a much bigger place. We could have a story that is set in a small town and we might feel like that small town is all there is, but if one of the characters mentions a sister from Dallas that has a major role on another book, the world begins to take shape for the reader. The reader saw in another book that things are happening in Dallas, so when she has the feeling as she is reading about the small town that things are still happening in Dallas, even as she is reading about the small town.

Many fantasy novels take place in unreal places. Though the author may describe these places well, we seldom see much that happens in the areas around them. Everything takes place on an island. There is the good country and the bad country, but there is little to tell us that there are countries that want nothing to do with the conflict because they have enough problems of their own. This usually helps the story, so it may be that the only place we can tell about these other countries is by giving them a story of their own.