Universe Building – how do you start and where does it end?
Reminds me of the Religious humor located at http://www.getyourowndirt.com/ which is most appropriate. To start your universe, you have to start at the ground floor, or with your own dirt.
Otherwise, what you build is a derivative, and derivative universes, while fun, are actually somebody else’s creation, you’re just putting your own spin on it, and possibly violating their copyrights in the process.
I have three main universes I write in at this time.
Center Worlds – my primary science-fiction universe set in a nebula of stars much closer to the galactic core. Nobody else has done this type of thing before to my knowledge, so I am generating a fresh universe, using my own dirt for it.
United Nations Naval Force (UNNF)- This is a semi-erotic universe I developed as an off-shoot of Center Worlds, putting some of the characters from there into Earth situations and seeing how things developed.
Battlefield, or the Mariah Douglas fiction – This is another world I generated from my own past experiences and have then developed into a substantial erotic fiction, set entirely in Seattle.
Each of these have their own set of rules and guidelines, and I tend to switch back and forth between them as I write. Adding content into each one, then hopping to a different story and adding content into that as well.
My key is how to begin. How to not only make a universe, but make it both believable, and not too wild so as to throw off the reader. I did that with Battlefield, the final story in the current mix tended to throw off a lot of readers because it swerved hard left into time travel, whereas the first two were romantic D/S erotica.
The UN Naval Force or UNNF story was an attempt to take one of the Center Worlds characters, a concubine by the name of Kya, and toss her onto Earth, then see what would develop as I wrote. It grew dynamically as I wrote. The first image was, what if a woman dropped from the sky, into the water, in front of our hero as he was out sailing? I retained some of the primary characters from Center Worlds, and wrote a 30,000 word outline that I published to the adult fiction website Literotica as a test of my ability to write a romance.
Since publication on the 4th of April, the numbers for that story are significant.
371 votes to give it a top score of 4.77 out of a possible 5, with more than 10,000 reads. Not too shabby, if I do say so myself. Based on that feedback and popularity I am now expanding the work into a full eBook that will be produced once I can finish it. The UNNF is military fiction with an erotic bent, and it should be out by Summer 2014.
That is how most of my work begins, with a single image, then I begin to write down that image, and see how the story progresses. I started with an image of a woman splashing into the water. What water? The San Francisco Bay area worked. It had military bases all round it. Initially, Kya was going to be the actual Kya from Center Worlds, transported to modern day earth. Therefore, making her an alien, but I canned that idea soon enough as another concept began to develop.
Who was on the boat? A retired Naval Officer, sailing. A foggy day, a Sunday. Develop the method by which Kya is dumped, but don’t reveal it at the beginning. Add mystery, she doesn’t know English, but she is a fast learner. The Center Worlds Kya is empathic, this one is just broken, but still has a lot of the same personality.
Write through the process of initial contact and develop language, Kya knows English, but due to her circumstances, she forgets the language quickly. She has suffered a trauma, begin to develop that. Split Personality comes to mind. Then the back story begins to come out. Kya is actually Lieutenant Kiara DeSinlo.
Work out a reason for the split and alter, which has to do with a patrol flight fifteen years ago during a military conflict that was the United Nations Navy being involved, and toss in a real world issue, the Senkaku islands.
Give the hero some back story as well, his father was a Gulf War naval aviator hero, his parents are both deceased, car accident. He has a twin sister, but she’s developmentally delayed, give her some detail as well. Throw in more details to flesh it out, and before you knew it, I had a full outline, with a beginning, middle, and end. I actually wrote the end before I even got to the middle. That was a mistake, it made writing the story that much harder, because I knew how it ended, so in some ways, why keep writing it?
That is something I’d caution writers about. Don’t write the ending until you’re ready to begin closure. Otherwise, keep it fluid because it can begin to close off the mental process that allows you to develop the story.
Set up your own dirt, then build your story upon that foundation. Start with an image and let the story grow from that one root. Depending on your fiction, you can add in historical details, modern details, supernatural aspects, SF details, whatever works. It all starts with the dirt. Get a good solid ground first, then let loose the fictons of writing.