The Multiverse

I accidentally wrote myself into a corner, and the way I want to get out is by using a multiverse. I just wanted to know if this was a great idea or a terrible idea. I don't think there's any middle ground, since it's an awesome idea, but it's done a lot.


There's a few devices, I think, which tend to consume a story if they're implemented.


One is a Mythos element. If you have a setting and you introduce entities who exist on a whole other level, who are so vast and unknowable that to even look at them threatens your sanity, malevolent or otherwise, then these elements are almost guaranteed to creep out into the setting as a whole. You can't have something that vast, represent it properly and not have it take over your setting.


The Multiverse is another such thing. Introduce the multiverse, and it consumes a work, because of everything it entails.


This isn't a bad thing, and I think/hope it can be done right if implemented at the appropriate moment in a story's development. But I wouldn't use it to get out of a corner, not without a lot of forethought. (Forethought that, I'd say, would be better turned toward writing yourself out of that corner in a more elegant fashion.


Or rocks could fall, and everyone could die...no wait, that's already happening in your story ;-)


Is it the Unbroken Chaos you're referring to, alex? I can't wait to see what you do! :-)


And ha, ha, Wildbow. I see what you did there.


Its either multiverse or kill all the main characters at this point, though. That's how tight it is. And I have a good idea about how it would be implemented, and the story would actually become a lot more interesting, but I just wanted to know if it was a little too cheesey.


Also, I forgot to mention, I read a book on string theory about a year ago, and understand the gist of what it said, so I could make a multiverse that is at least somewhat scientifically possible, unlike some people that have probably tried it before and didn't look into anything, and accidentally created a paradox without realizing it, even based on their worlds version of it (BioShock Infinite, I'm looking at you).


I just finished this weeks episode, and I've bought myself about a week until I have to address issue. At this point, I can go with the multiverse idea, and the more I think about it, the more I want to, but I really don't want to do something that's overdone. However, I've got a really good story arc that could be really interesting if the multiverse is introduced.


Also, Fiona, thanks for the review. I feel like you said what I was hoping for: "Some people will like it, some people won't" (or something like that). I would rather have a few people genuinely like it than a ton of people fake liking it because everybody else fake likes it. That's the way Twilight is: nobody actually likes it, but they feel obligated to like it because it's popular. I even have a friend who admited to not liking it after tha last movie came out, and a lot of her friends got mad because they had pretended to like it because she had pretended to like it (I never pretended to like it, because, to quote Stephen King: "Harry Potter is about confronting fears, finding inner strength and doing what is right in the face of adversity. Twilight is about how important it is to have a boyfriend." That is when I first began to be interested in his books.).


I disagree with Wildbow that a multiverse necessarily must take over a story -- but I agree that it does irrevocably CHANGE a story, if there has been nothing in the story to this point to indicate one might exist.


But, frankly, killing off all (or any) of the major characters also irrevocably changes the story.


The thing to think about, IMHO, is not whether that particular solution is a problem in and of itself, but rather think about what the essence of the story is now, and does this violate that? Does this make you drop things that your audience may love? Does this make promises you can't keep?


Or heck, even if it violates everything, do you have some place interesting to go with it? Will you be going for a different audience because of that?


Those are the questions to worry about. Cliches... meh. That's just a word for poorly done archetypes.


Worry about what it does to the tone of the story, and your enthusiasm first.


Camille


There is already some basis, as of Episode XI (I just finished Episode XVI tonight), and it will take over the story for a little while, as I have an entire story arc based around it. And even if it did irrevocably change the story, the people who've read the entire thing up until then will at least be able to adapt to some extent, since it is already all over the place in terms of plot (the plot is interesting, just complex, and bound to grow more complex if I add a multiverse).


Seriously, multiverse would not be out of place in your story. You've already got the boy who can open portals and they've already been to one other world or plane of existance where they met the demons. I kind of figured some sort of multiverse or dimensional travel was where you were heading. Or time travel where they go back and prevent what they just did....


I agree with what Wildbow is saying about big concepts taking over a setting. That doesn't make them bad, it just means you have to be prepared for it. If you're writing a story about an ordinary guy and one day superheroes show up (so it turns out he's a civilian in a superhero world) sooner or later there's going to be more superheroic action and characters, because even the author is going to wonder "why am I reading/writing about that guy's hard day at work, when I could be writing about the superhero actions instead?"


If you create access to a Multiverse, it will always be there in the background as a source of adventures, antagonists, escape hatches and surprises. You can't put it back into Pandora's box and pretend reality is "normal" after that.


Superpowers, mythical or godlike beings, multiple dimensions, time travel and magic always seep into their settings once they're introduced. The trick is to involve them organically and reasonably, instead of as a Deus ex Machina, and avoid overusing tropes.


The biggest risks with a multiverse I would say are a) over-exposure. Right now I can name Heinlein's World as Myth theory, Excalibur's Crosstime Caper, the X-Men's World of Apocalypse and Marvel's use of the multiverse in general, DC's Crisis of Infinite Earths, Sliders, Fringe, Legion of Nothing's Robert Rodgers guest arc, Worm, and the Last Skull just as SOME examples.


b) Characters can be killed and brought back too easily, leaving it hard to stay emotionally invested in them because some will just be props. This is the thing you have to watch for the most.


c) Introduction of the random -- multiverses let you do pretty much anything. It's really easy to accidentally come up with something zany and jump the shark.


That's why Christopher Nolan created a very tight, condensed Batman universe with no other superheroes. He couldn't tell his gritty, realistic story in a world with Batmite or even Superman and Green Lantern. It would have knocked down the walls around his self-imposed rules for the setting. The minute you introduce the rest of the DC universe, Bane is a punk that Superman can take out in less time than it takes to type. He'll throw the nuke into the sun before Batman can fly it out of the city.


If you are leery of it being overused, put some requirements on it, and limit its use in some way.


Also... um.... string theory really has nothing to do with multiverse theories.... I'm kinda curious how you tie that in.


Both Marvel and DC comics use the multiverse, and they have to reboot it every few years because it takes over. That should be a warning in itself.


It's not a warning, it's just something to keep in mind.


The reason DC keeps rebooting theirs is because eventually someone gets put in charge who doesn't like the multiverse idea. However, despite their many statements to the contrary, the idea of the multiverse is generally popular among readers, so almost immediately after making them all go away, they introduce an Earth-2, Earth-3 and maybe an Earth-4 and say "but that's IT. NO MORE."


But it doesn't work that way.


Multiverses can be an enormous amount of fun and there's nothing wrong with them. However, they're also polarizing. Some people won't like them no matter how you work them up. Be prepared for that if you go forward.


Ubersoft: I have to admit, the "Crisis" arcs at DC were some of my favorites. Generally, it is polarizing, and can be very confusing to the reader.


There are ways around it. I am thinking of shows like Sliders and Stargate, where they travel the multiverse, but it still centers around one group. If you get situations like in DC, where characters from Earth 2 are living in Earth 1 and fighting bad guys in Earth-5 or whatever, it becomes a traffic jam