Monday, June 27

A first novel: A persistent universe

For some time I have entertained the idea that this first novel of mine will also be the first in a very loose trilogy. I’m not thinking the continuing adventures of Kukat Lochilangor or anything so unified as Lord of the Rings but a trilogy of theme and place, an exploration of Kenya and the United States. This first is about a Kenyan in Kenya. The second will be about an American in Kenya, and the third about a Kenyan in America. A handful of supporting characters will recur between stories. Main characters may reappear only well after their own stories are told and in much more limited roles, but their presence will be felt. The new characters will know of those that preceded them and be inspired by them. The action of the following novels will only be possible through the efforts of the characters before them.

I like this idea as it allows me to use a first-person or third-person limited perspective but still see complex, conflicted characters and places through a multitude of eyes, but lately I have been considering expanding this idea even further. What if all of my stories took place within the same universe? The origin was in writing my second submission to the second volume of Machine of Death. I was trying to think of a name for one of the characters, another Kenyan, and I thought why not make him the son of two minor characters in my novel now? That’s all. There’s no more allusion to my novel because I cannot be too confident in any more of the details, but I like the idea that my characters had some existence outside of my writing, that their lives continued and mattered after I stopped writing about them.

If I follow through with this idea, even that may be an exceptionally strong relationship between two of my stories. Most of them will have nothing whatsoever to do with any other story, but I like the possibilities this opens up. Events after another story’s end can be mentioned. Hints of characters’ fates can be referred to. A character in one story can comment on the work of an artist in another and may hate it.

I can see how this can be a limiting idea. If I held tight to it in absolutely everything, it can hold me back from attempting stories too large as their impact on the world would spin its course too far from that of the real world, something I would very much want to avoid, but I don’t have to always hold so tight. I can be loose in it. We’ll see where it goes. It’ll be fun.

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