Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Connecting the Dots

A small town man-child, overcoming his own faults to save his best friend from a demon. Two teenage runaways, in love and on an adventure across parallel dimensions, dogged by some unnamed evil. A criminal empire decimated by a blue-headed Death figure.

Three unrelated stories that I’m working on (the first one is already available and is The Strange Man). Or, are they unrelated?

I don’t know when the fascination began, but I love interconnected stories. I love an intricate mythology, made up of a multitude of stories. I love seeing characters from Story A pop up--even if it’s only a cameo--in Story B. I love continuity. I have since I was a kid. I’ve always written stories where this character over here knows this character over there. Where different characters from different tales can peacefully co-exist in the same town, or visit the same places. I like repeating locations, names, and themes. I like the feeling that all my stories exist in a single world.

For years, I took this approach in my screenwriting and my general story-thoughts. It’s actually become a running joke with my friends. “Give it to Greg--he can connect anything”. Naturally, when I started writing prose, I brought over this same philosophy, but was worried how that might appear to publishers and the public, in general. Especially when I have recurring threads existing through stories that might all see publication by different houses.

Much to my surprise, though, I discovered that this "phenomenon" runs rampant in fiction writing in all genres! Clive Cussler, John Grisham, Stephen King, Ray Bradbury, the list goes on! So many people have done this very same thing. I realized I was not alone in my insanity! There are other dot-connectors out there!

Perhaps I was meant to write novels all along :)

I’m excited for my other stories to see publication one day, for a variety of reasons. But largely so that the connections are out there for Readers to discover--a whole world waiting to be uncovered and dots to be connected. I hope to see those stories come to light, and I hope to have Readers willing to follow me as I explore the mysterious corners of my own little universe. It will, no doubt, be infinitely more fun for me to connect the dots than it will be for you, but I’m okay with that.

It’s what I do.

For the writers in the crowd, do you connect dots? Be it a name, or a character, or a place--how have you connected your works? For readers, do you appreciate this odd little quirk in a writer or are we only infuriating you with our mad obsession?


DRC said...

I connect dots. I'm writing a collection of fantasy novels, all independant of each other, but based in the same fantasy world. So far, none of the characters know each other, but they know the same places, and they all know the same legends about their world. I'm loving it, I have to say...

SteveDoyle said...

My short story collection: "The Casebook of the Paranormal Research Institute" has many of the same characters popping up in different stories, indeed one case is narrated by a bit-player from another.

caledre said...

Yes Greg! We are sympatico! Whenever I write a story, I insert it into this master timeline file I keep. My weird westerns, my historical horror, even stuff that may never see the light of day almost all exist in the same universe. I always loved the references Stephen King put in his stories to his other works. I remember being thrilled to read Cujo being mentioned (and not even by name, I think) in It.

Lena Nelson Dooley said...

I do connect the dots in a series of books, of course.

However, I had a character in a previous book from another publisher, and I wrote a back story for the villain. They passed on the book with him as a hero.

I changed the name and place, and his story is book two in my second series with Charisma House/Realms.