This week I finally got something so minor it was almost silly confirmed for me – Only If You Want still works as a story if the reader hadn’t started reading Being More Social. Completely trivial in the grand scheme, but given I wanted it to work on its own I was happy to see it could operate as its own work.
I don’t really write these stories with the primary goal of having it be one big story and having each story serve as puzzle pieces or something – it’s honestly just easier to write with a place that has its own contained set of rules. It’s easier to write Only If You Want knowing a lot of the characters already exist. Even in stories that barely cross over, like The Good The Bad and The Molly and Panopticon, if you caught the link between those two, wasn’t meant to be some big conspiracy or anything. I find it easier as a writer to construct a universe of people then pick a person’s story to tell for each story, rather than wiping the slate clean for every story.
I can’t keep this up forever obviously, especially if and when I start to pursue stranger and more supernatural stories, especially if I get more popular over time and people look for continuity holes in my writing. Heck, I bet you could find several now if you wanted. It kind of weirds me out how when a storyteller presents their stories as taking place in the same universe, it’s presumed that the purpose of this is to create a giant conspiracy-like puzzle that readers are expected to extract some greater meaning from.
Now, don’t get me wrong, there are a few implied things here and there in my stories, one or two of which, to my knowledge, like one reader has picked up on, but I also don’t make those the purpose of my writing. They’re just fun things. I like moral messages – Being More Social’s is “be careful about rushing into sex when you’re young, you might get hurt,” and GBM’s is, um, “Don’t fuck people without consent in their sleep.” But if you read it and thought, “neat story,” or even, “sweet, I got off to this story, time to throw it away and get on with my day,” you picked up on the puzzle pieces just as much as any other reader. Stories are as valuable as you make ’em, so if you ever felt like you’re missing out on the bigger picture, odds are you’re not. I’ll talk to you all next week.