Fictional Universe Anyone?

I’m a fan of series fiction. What I mean is that I like the idea of having characters I can invest in and get to know over the course of several books, movies, episodes, and so on.

You already know who Dan from accounting is and how he fits into this world the author created. We understand how he interacts with others, who is mom was, his habits, his flaws, and how he deals with it all while figuring out how to get through the latest obstacle forced upon him by the author.

I’m not here to talk about Dan in accounting. I’m here to talk about characters who have a recurring role in the background of the main storyline of multiple tales. They are not the main character(s), they don’t even have to be secondary characters. It could be something as simple as a setting, or place, or color, or line of dialogue that makes an appearance sending out a wink to the audience of an inside joke only true fans could understand.
Authors, I think, would agree that having a certain character(s) re-appear from time to time is a comfort especially when writing about them. One of my favorite examples of having this is what Kevin Smith did with his movies. Kurt Vonnegut had a recurring role for Kilgore Trout in several of his works, and even Stephen King made references from different books in his vast tomb of work.

Is it an easy out? Maybe. Is it something that makes the author smile while they do this? It does for me. I like the idea of having a fictional universe where any and all the characters are living under the same bubble. They might bump into each other from time to time for good or bad. The homeless guy whacking a young punk over the head with a picket sign of a smiley face while defending his collection of aluminum cans could happen anywhere. Plus, it is sure to have multiple people witness such an event and remember it at the end of the day. Why can’t the homeless guy make an appearance in multiple stories? He can. He can have his own story.related-books

I’ve done something like this in the past in “Yes to Maybe,” and “Frank Winston.” Though both stories take place on different timelines, they are part of the same fictional universe. Both have the character Desmond Reid. In “Yes to Maybe” we see his first job for Mickey Russo (also mentioned in “Frank Winston”), and in the other story he is much older. In both stories Desmond is not the main character, but someone who comes in, affects and effects the story, and gets out of there. It’s my nod to a novel I wrote where Desmond and Mickey were my main characters. The novel has not seen the light of day because it needs serious revision (you can check out sample chapters One, Two, and Three), but that’s not to stop me from having these people make an appearance somewhere else. Why not? I will most likely have to rewrite that novel once I figure out how to properly re-arrange it into a more suitable form, but until then I’ll see who else noticed the homeless guy with the smiley face sign.

Anyone else do the same?

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One comment

  1. Fascinating article! My main instance of doing this was when I used the name of a town in an (unpublished) short story as the name of a town in my current WIP novel, although I wouldn’t consider these two stories as existing in the same universe. I just liked the name :).

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