When to Stop Expanding a Universe

I’m going to reveal something that I thought about doing that I never told anyone before. A few months after A Moment’s Worth was released, I had thoughts about doing a companion novella to it. It would have focused on the character Baleia, who was most definitely the most vague character of them all, and about her journey. But then I considered otherwise, and made the decision to not pursue it. I realized that if I were to write such a piece, it would take away some of the looseness and mystery that snakes its way throughout the original novel. That, along with the fact that I had finished my time in that universe, and I was ready to move on to something else (that something else obviously being my second novel).

Doing the opposite of what I initially decided, expanding a universe, seems to be a common thing nowadays for storytellers, apart from revivals and adaptations. But how do we know when enough is enough? While I don’t intend to find an answer to that, I do intend to ponder and consider.

When one creates a universe, especially one of a generally loved franchise with a number of devoted fans, it can be hard for a creator to find a specific point where they go, “Enough is enough. I’m capping it off here.” We’ve seen many examples, where short stories and novellas tell of what happens in between events and from different perspectives, what that universe was like in the past, facts about particular characters and creatures in that universe that we originally did not know about, and more. Backstories and expansions can be quite fun at times, but as with all things, there’s a limit to just how far you can go.

I was in discussion on this with some peeps earlier this week, about how it would be if the original creator of a story set in a particular universe were to hand off the reigns to a new generation; in particular those who express they know the world like the back of their hand, via the form of fan fiction. While I personally find those fan fiction sites to be the last place worth looking at, in some way, I can see what they mean.

But even then, exactly how far will they go? With the successors have it within themselves to know when enough is enough? It can be difficult to contemplate.

Already, the “Star Wars” franchise keeps on going to this day, and that’s not in the hands of its original creator, George Lucas. But in this case, it proved to be for the better, especially after creating the prequel trilogy where special effects, weak actors and wobbly story structures made them out to be not at all like the originals. Nowadays, there is a mix of the original actors, fantastic new actors, and storylines that really ring true to what “Star Wars” is all about. It’s one of those cases where it too is telling stories between stories (such as the upcoming “Rogue One” film), but it’s in a way where it’s respectable to the heart of the franchise.

Also earlier this week, the New York Times published an article about how J.K. Rowling, the mastermind behind the “Harry Potter” universe, can’t seem to put her beloved magical franchise to rest, even though it’s been almost nine years since Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows was published. Obvious examples include the upcoming stage production “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child,” the upcoming film “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them,” and the many instances where she’ll give more background details to her beloved characters via Twitter and the many short stories she’ll write for Pottermore. The article indicates how some fans are worried how she may be going down the path of Lucas, where she’ll create so many expansions to her universe, to the point where it will ripped from her bare hands.

But for the most part though, in both these instances, the fans seem to be pretty happy. They’re happy that the successors of Lucas are being respectable with continual additions to the “Star Wars” universe, and they’re happy with the much broader world of Harry Potter than they ever would have expected otherwise. I guess at the end of the day, as long as the fans are happy, then that’s probably one of the most important things to keep in mind.

That’s not to say that this is the case for every large following. Take a look at the Miyazaki films for instance, where despite the number of unique worlds his films take place in, none of them ever get sequels. Same can go for a number of Pixar’s films as well, although as we’ve seen in the last five years, that’s starting to change.

At the end of the day, it just has a lot to do with what room there is to expand, is there an additional story that’s actually worth telling, would the fans appreciate it or are they happy with what they know, and when and where is a good place to stop. At the end of the day, it’s about the story, and how far it can stretch and is worthy of being stretched. That’s what I, at least, tend to keep in mind as I go forward with creating my stories.

A Moment’s Worth is now available through the following venues: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Smashwords, iTunes. Please leave a review if you can, for my goal is to get a total of at least 20 reviews on all venues (so far, I’ve gotten 12 reviews so I’m already just past the halfway point to my goal). Check out its Goodreads page, which includes two trivia quizzes for all who’ve completed reading it already.

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