Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Creating Canon

A lot of science fiction and fantasy films created from books, have nerds like me bitching about "canon". Canon is quite simply the rules of the universe in which the story is set. If the story plays by the rules of our world, it doesn't need canon in the same manner, but some would argue that even character decisions create canon. So, it is not without reason that an author of this genre must be very concerned with creating canon.

Nothing will lose a reader like something that breaks canon. The nerdosphere will lose its collective mind if something does not make sense with what has been written before. Comic books get around this by literally calling it a completely different universe. The most recent set of Star Trek films have done the same. It doesn't always calm the raging beast of nerd-dom to tell them it is a different universe. We have moved beyond such simple manipulation. We need better manipulation, but I digress.

I tell you all of this because as a fantasy author, I must be concerned with creating canon. In the first story int eh universe, there is so much freedom to change the rules. But, as you get into more and more stories, the rules matter. There are a few ways to get around them. For instance, in the case of the Saga of Mystics, it is still new enough to argue that everyone was just wrong about how something works. I can report that I intentionally did this with certain aspects, so the reveal would be better later.

Understanding canon is simply an exercise in understanding the question, "IS Jon Snow dead and will he stay that way?" for Game of Thrones fans. Within the rich canon that George R.R. Martin created, there are at least four answers that would reasonably be "no." (even though we all saw him stabbed to death)

Creating that kind of canon, where there are different possible answers to a question is both a challenge and a true joy as an author. The more work you have, the more of a chance to give those readers who are really in tune with the story's universe, to figure things out. I find it do fun as a fan, that I want it for those who read my books. Unlike some authors, I feel that the work belongs to both writer and reader. So, if I have made rules, they must be adhered to by all stories within the narrative universe.

As such, I have just finished the first step in creating canon for Saga of Mystics. I finished a short story to explain the unexpected weather in the beginning of Age of Mystics. It sets rules for how things work. It came from a reader asking why the weather changed, and giving possible reasons she thought it might. It was such a great exercise, that I want to do more. So, if you see something that you want answered, or a character you would like to know more about (and their story is not already in the outlines for other books in the series), let me know and I will see if I can answer the question. And keep an eye out later this week for "And the Rain Fell: a Saga of Mystics Short" in the Kindle store.

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