Talking to myself while I pace is my favorite method of brainstorming. I get a lot of exercise and ideas out of it, what’s not to love? Anyway, I’ve been brainstorming a lot lately. With the brainstorming comes a reassessment of my creative plans.
My creative instincts pivot towards writing lone novels with little to no relationship between them. Baring, of course, the fact that I wrote them with the resultant similarities of style. I like this approach. It allows me to avoid the pitfalls of writing series ( I can’t abide the bloating that kills many long running series, be they novels, television, or manga). It also allows me to dabble in multiple genres and, perhaps, forms (rather than limiting myself to just writing one form my entire career).
This is how it would have looked in practice: My first novel would be occult fiction. My second novel would be epic fantasy. My third novel would be realist fantasy. So on and so forth.
But there is a huge problem embedded in this approach. World building is a hard and stressful operation. How much more stressful would world building a project every year or two be (whether that world is a version of Earth or a secondary world)?
Looking back over many various projects, I realized something. Many of my projects are either set on Earth or could just as easily be reworked to be set on Earth. What if I create a single, alternate, Earth for my common setting?
In the days I’ve had to think, I’ve fallen in love with this idea. I can keep my projects largely separate, but I won’t have to kill myself creating new worlds every few years. I’ve mentioned that I’m wanting to write some form of superhero fantasy, and I think having a common setting will allow me a larger canvas for depth and history while not becoming bloated.
But why Earth? Why not a secondary world?
Assume, for a moment, that I could only write one fantasy. That one fantasy could only be inspired by a single time period. What period would I choose?
Easy. The modern world.
Yes, the modern world is where my passions truly lie despite the fact that I’m a history nerd with a wide array of interests.
Would a secondary world inspired by the 1920s, 1960s, or 2010s have a shot? There is an undeniable desire for fantasy to be inspired by periods not medieval Europe. But would such a fantasy world drawing inspiration so close to our own time really fill that need? Maybe. I can always hope.
There is another problem, though. Our world today is far more complicated than other historical periods because there is so much information to sift through. We have hundreds of countries and polities, an equal number of languages, and dozens of religions. How can that diversity be reflected in a secondary world? Maybe I could hew closely to Earth and use real languages for various places. Maybe I can limit the setting to an expy of the United States that stuck with the Articles of Confederation (or just remained independent states) with a few references to other countries. Maybe that could work.
Or maybe I could just recreate Earth as a very weird and fantastical world. A world where anything could be possible.
Either way, I’m looking forward to the journey.