The Multiverse of Creative Writing

The Eye-Dancers explores the concept of parallel worlds, universes that exist, unseen, beside our own, like a billion billion invisible shadows.  On the surface, this seems like sheer fantasy, sky-high sci-fi that does not apply, in any realistic sense of the word, to the lives of anyone save speculative fiction lovers and quantum physicists.



But perhaps parallel-worlds theory is far more practical, far more applicable than it seems at first blush.  Take writing a novel, for example . . .

For our imaginary novel, let’s picture a story of, say, 90,000 words.  As the author, of course you go through the logical progression.  First, an idea strikes, hot, boiling, the literary waters frothy with enthusiasm and energy.  Then you make some notes–not too many–just various anchor points you need to keep in mind as you travel down the winding road of your imagination.  And then, finally, you begin.  You feel a thrill when you key in “Chapter One” on the first page and begin to tell the tale.



But let’s take a step back.  Are you writing just one single novel here, or are you, in actuality, writing countless novels?  Consider.  You have to begin your story somewhere.  And surely it could have begun in any number of places, with any number of potential scenes.  You have to choose one.  But what of the others, the scenes not chosen?  What happens to them?  In one sense, nothing.  They represent the “what-ifs,” the “might-have-beens,” the ideas, scenes, words, paragraphs that will never be written–at least not in this novel.



If we were to take a quantum mechanics–style view of this, however, the scenes that go unused are not necessarily discarded.  Rather, perhaps we can look at them as “parallel openings,” “alternate versions.”  Indeed.  Have you ever written an opening scene to a story and then, just out of curiosity, opened a new file and redone the scene, in a completely different way?  I have.  It’s the same story, the same idea, but, now with a new opening, the story takes a different shape, a divergent path, a back-roads route.  If you were to carry the experiment further, the first opening sequence (call it Novel #1) would naturally lead to another scene and then another and then another, multiplying all the way down the road of 90,000 words.  Whereas the second opening sequence (call it Novel #2) would lead to a different follow-up scene and then a different third scene, and so on, creating, in effect, a wholly different novel, even though both novels are, in essence, the same story, coming into being from the same idea, the same inspiration.



Everywhere you find yourself within the story arc, whether chapter one or chapter twenty-one, you have decisions to make.  Does Character Y really say that?  Does Character V really want to pull that stunt?  Of course, the characters themselves are the ones calling the shots, just as much, if not more, than the writer.  But they are calling the shots, at least in part and especially the further in you get, based on all of the events that led to that point in the story.  For every chapter, for every paragraph on the journey of 90,000 words, a decision is made, the sentence is written.  And for every decision made, there are a thousand, a million, a billion decisions not made, actions not pursued, word choices and plot twists never realized.



When viewed this way, each story is merely one small tributary branching off from a bottomless river, one possibility amid countless possibilities.  From a single idea is birthed an infinity of options.



Take, for instance, the following story premise.

A young man, call him Jim, is hired by a modestly sized computer software company.  He’s shown around, introduced to the employees, but along the way, he notices one cubicle in particular.  The name plate is still there–“Wayne”–the desk is strewn with loose papers, handwritten notes.  A coffee mug rests off to the side, Post-It notes are attached to the PC monitor, and old clippings of newspaper cartoons are tacked to the cubicle walls.  But as the days press on, first a week, then two, then three, Wayne never shows.  No one cleans off the desk.  Is he scheduled to come back?  Has he taken a leave of absence?  Has he been fired or did he quit in a rage, suddenly, with no notice?  Jim asks several coworkers.  They skirt around the question, evading, dodging, not wanting to say anything.



What happened?  Who is this Wayne, and why is his desk still littered with his notes and mugs and assorted papers?  If he isn’t going to come back, why not clean up his work space, or hire somebody else?

Jim can’t stop thinking about it.  He tells his girlfriend, his parents, his buddies.  They all say to forget it, who cares?  But he can’t forget it.  He can’t shake the feeling that something awful has happened, something monstrous.



Then, on an otherwise nondescript Monday morning, he receives an anonymous email.  The Sender is just called “6754.”  The subject line reads:  “Stop asking questions.”  The body of the email reads:  “Or else . . .”  And that is all.

Where can you take this story?  What would the opening scene look like?  Would it be Jim’s first day, spotting Wayne’s desk for the first time?  Would it be his asking a coworker about Wayne and getting the brush-off?  Would it be the mysterious email?  It could be any of these, and more.  And whichever scene is selected will impact the next scene and then the next, and the next . . .



In fact, perhaps we should start a new blog hop.  Blog hops have to start somewhere, right?  Why not call it the “Parallel Worlds of Creative Writing” Blog Hop!  Jim’s scenario can be used, or another can be created.  And, to begin, seven interested bloggers can write the first scene of the would-be story.  Then, each of these bloggers would tag another seven bloggers to write the second scene.  The thing is, if seven bloggers wrote the first scene, there would be seven unique opening scenes–one opening scene per each blogger.  When these bloggers tag the next group of seven bloggers, the latter would only be able to work with the opening scene they received.  So, in effect, the bloggers next up in the chain would each be working with different opening scenes–no two opening scenes would be alike.  The second wave of bloggers would write their scene, the next scene in the story, and then pass it along to a third group of seven bloggers each, and so on.  Every blogger tagged would be working with a unique chain and furthering that chain by writing their version of the next scene and passing it on.



The process could go on as long as interest remained, and by the end of the blog hop, there would be a plethora of versions of the same story, each thread, each individual blog-tag branching off in its own direction, visual manifestation, as it were, of the multiverse of creative writing.



Every time we begin a story, every time we start a new scene, we toss a pebble into our own personal literary pond, the resulting ripples circling out, farther, deeper, into the water.  And when it’s time to begin the next scene, the next chapter, the next paragraph, we can only choose one of them, the others drifting, away, out of reach.

All any writer can do is hope they choose the right one.



Thanks so much for reading!


The 777 Writing Challenge, Or a Peek into an Untitled Sequel . . .

When Sherri Matthews invited me to participate in the 777 Writing Challenge, I was honored–as I always am when anyone in the WordPress community invites me to join in on a blog hop.  But with Sherri, it was even more special, as she has been a supporter of The Eye-Dancers almost from its inception, two and a half years ago.  Sherri is a fantastic person and writer whose blog should not be missed.  Be sure to catch her on her wonderful website, A View From My Summerhouse.

The 777 Writing Challenge is very simple:

‘The 777 challenge requires you go to Page 7 of your work-in-progress, scroll down to Line 7 and share the next 7 lines in a blog post. Once you have done this, you can tag 7 other bloggers to do the same with their work-in-progress.’



As those of you who have read some of my other blog hop posts know all too well, I am a rule-breaker, and proud of it!  The same will hold true here, as I fudge (quite!) a bit on the sample size of the excerpt and also nominate nine bloggers rather than seven!



The excerpt I am selecting is from the sequel to The Eye-Dancers (still, sadly, untitled!), the events of which occur five years after the conclusion of the first novel.  Page 7 of this work-in-progress lands near the end of the Prologue, where Monica Tisdale, the “ghost girl” from The Eye-Dancers, learns the hard way that she is able to tap into other dimensions, other realities, and experience those places through the eyes of her alternate selves.  The problem with this?  She is bombarded with sights, sounds, images, memories, as she experiences the onslaught of an infinite number of shared lives.



Here is the excerpt (far longer than just the seven lines requested!), beginning on page 7, line 7, and then, after omitting several paragraphs, picking up again and carrying on to the end of the Prologue . . .


She closed her eyes. She remembered feeling a powerful surge, as if struck by lightning. She remembered the screams and the cries and the unending echo of voices upon voices, filtering through the tunnels and tributaries of existence. There were layers of her that extended without end.

What she did not know, and did not remember, was which Monica Tisdale she was. She was all of them, all of her. She was a single storehouse for an infinite number of lives. Their consciousness was her consciousness. Their joys and torments were hers.

And she dreaded the next onslaught, the next deluge of images, of pain and laughter, tears and jubilation without end. It was too much. Far too much. . . .


Monica squirmed, violently, as if having a seizure. The nurse rushed out of the room, calling for assistance. In a moment, a doctor would come in, probe, prod, examine her like an alien specimen in a scientist’s laboratory. It didn’t matter. Nothing mattered.

She was in so many places, undergoing so many things . . .

From somewhere, a universe away, and yet inside herself, she heard the buzz of a dentist’s drill, and the dull, thudding pain of its tip as it bored into her upper front tooth. She shouldn’t have felt anything, but the dentist hadn’t given her enough Novocaine.

Somewhere else—she heard laughter, taunting, jeering, as a handful of bigger girls pushed her into a mud puddle. “Get up, you little freak,” they said, and she felt a wet glob of spit land on her face.

Somewhere else again, she was in a gloomy, shadow-filled room, thin streaks of sunlight filtering in through the gaps of brown window slats. She stood up, tried to open the door, but it was locked. In the hallway, beyond, she heard a man’s loud, angry voice, and then the smack of his hand striking flesh. A cry, a scream. Another slap. And a sense of utter helplessness, entrapment, no escape.

“No!” she yelled, from that locked room worlds away, and from the hospital bed where she thrashed and jerked and spasmed. How could she shut off the images and sounds and feelings?

“Please. Please . . . stop . . .”

Mercifully, it did. Her mind went blank for a moment, and then, she was only here, in this one room, this one place. But for how long? When would the next episode occur? And when it did, would she be able to stop it? Or would she remain, simultaneously, in an infinite number of worlds forever, without respite or reprieve?

She didn’t want to think of that. She just breathed a sigh of relief that it was over, if only for a moment. Outside her door, she heard the approaching footfalls of doctors and nurses. She could read their thoughts, know what they were going to say before they said it.

If only they could help her. It didn’t seem possible, but maybe . . .

She shook her head. She was past that now. “Maybe” wasn’t good enough.

She had to contact those others, those boys. But who were they? Where were they from? She had to remember. She concentrated, blocking out the rush of thoughts all around her. A picture formed in her mind. At first it was blurry. Then the colors and lines and contours took shape. Yes. She had done it—she knew them. They were from another world, a world where she herself did not exist. She’d been in trouble (once, somewhere), and had called out. They were the ones who heard. They were the ones who helped.

She did not know if they would want to help her again. But it didn’t matter. The decision wasn’t theirs to make.

It was hers.


The following bloggers, talented wordsmiths all, have fantastic websites, and I hope you’ll pay them each a visit and delve into their imaginative and captivating worlds.

I also hope they will take up the 777 Writing Challenge . . .

Thanks again so much to Sherri for including me!



And thanks so much to everyone for reading.


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