Whilst finishing my latest book I realised that I was about to break one of my cardinal rules for writing fiction and I had no way to reverse it. I won’t say what it was exactly but I’ll let you hazard a guess as here, I present those cardinal rules in no particular order:
1. No matter how crazy things get, there must always be some sense of realism
Obvious this one really. How are people supposed to believe in the story if there isn’t any realism? Escapism and adventure is good, but it needs to be grounded.
2. No one lives forever
In a shared universe set over as big a time scale as mine is, all characters must have a designated date of death. Even if they survive to the end of the story, it doesn’t mean they’ll be alive by the next one. Some live to a ripe old age, others don’t. It just helps with the realism.
3. There is no hapilly ever after
Whilst a particular story may have a reasonably happy ending, that doesn’t mean the characters are going to spend the rest of their days in peace and happiness. Life isn’t like that. It’s a bitch and then you die.
4. Sex, Sex and Sex
Everybody needs someone to love right? In incredible and astonishing situations people tend to get caught up in moments, develop unhealthy romantic attatchments and maybe even want to get in that last shag before they go to their potential death. Hence, sex usually has to play a part somewhere… Besides… Without sex how does the story continue to the next generation? And not to mention everybody loves a good sex scene, good or bad.
5. Every ending is a beginning
The end of each story must somehow link into the next one chronologically. Helps keep up a sense of continuity.
6. No person of fifteen years or younger must ever be placed in a situation involving danger of peril
That would just be cruel.
7. Nobody is truly good or evil… Unless they’re a certified psychopath.
A reader’s perception of good or bad depends on the main character… In one book a good character could be bad but in the next…
8. Each story must be both different to and better than the last in as many ways as possible.
Or how else do we improve ourselves? Besides… It’d get boring if they weren’t different from each other.
9. No magic, supernatural phenomena or divine intervention
Again, keeps things real. Science and advanced technology is allowed though (provided there is an explanation at some point)
10. The universe is a really messed up place… The weird and the bizzare are everywhere. Reflect this.
In other words whilst things must be kept real, some things that are really are just fucked up…