History is Bunk, said Henry Ford (maybe).

Welcome back to another blog hop, with #OpenBook. Here’s this week’s prompt.

How soon is too soon to include a real-life event in a fictional story?

I certainly don’t want to be reminded about this year’s events for quite a while, thank you so much!! Even in fiction. Which would have to be pretty extreme to be worse than the facts.

As I don’t write contemporary stories, the problem never arises. But the question remains, in the future, events will still be shaped by what happened in the past. The dwellers in my worlds have memories and celebrations, just like we do.

So I’m going slightly off-piste, as I tend to.

In writing my futuristic adventures, and even in my alternative reality work, I come up against the problem of history and current events all the time. With the added problem that, as the future doesn’t exist (yet), I have to create it. And not just the future, I need to know the history of the future as well. So my characters have a past that they can use in their present. It’s almost like time travel, except that the present hardly features.

The really big question is this. How much of the history of the future do you need to include, either as general back story or as relevant to your characters present situation?

And how much of whatever the present situation in their worlds might be is needed for realism in your narrative?

I have a lot of backstories, it’s unavoidable, with the four or five universes that my various series are based in. Inevitably they overlap a little.

For simplicity and leaving the Steampunk aside for a moment, as it’s a bit of a special case, I’ve kept most of the main things the same. The method of trans-light travel, a lot of the capabilities of spaceships, construction materials and communications are identical across my universes. Planet names vary of course, as do time frames and political systems.

In an effort to keep track of it all, I imagined a magazine for the interplanetary age and called it Galactographic! I wanted it to be a souped-up version of National Geographic (without pictures, obviously). It currently resides in a folder on my computer, where I use it as a repository of all my back story. Everything is arranged as articles, much as NG does now. I even made a rough idea of the cover of one issue.

It’s been very useful, one day the backstories it contains might even exist as a standalone book. In its world, Ballantyne Alysom, the explorer, was the man who started it all. In fact, his family still own it centuries later.

The magazine and the Alysom family even feature in several of my novels and short stories. You can find mention of him and his times in Freefall, Survive and several of my short stories.

Back to the subject.

In my Dave Travise universe, they know all about the Holy Wars and the destruction of Brethren’s Host. It happened in living memory.

Miles Goram in the Balcom universe can celebrate Hyperspace day on Centra. It was a while ago, but so important that everyone knows when it was.

Jackson Thwaite (The Orphan Detectives) knows the history of Norlandia, which just happens to be the Horis Strongman novels. This is a neat trick; if you can do it. Readers of this one will now be encouraged to read the other books.

And there are many more examples in my books.

One of the biggest compliments I have ever had as a writer (not that there are many to choose from), came from a reader of Survive. She said, “This reads like a history of the future.”

Perhaps, one day, it will be?

As the dedication for one of my books says,

One day the future will be history, taught in schools to bored children.

I think that I almost kept to the subject this week. Well done if you managed to make it this far through my thoughts. Now let me know what you think. Then go and check out the other great blogs on his hop by clicking the purple link below.

I’d love to get your comments, please leave them below. While you’re here, why not take a look around? There are some freebies and lots more content, about me, my writing and everything else that I do. You can join my newsletter for a free novella and more news by clicking this link.



10 Responses

  1. Stevie Turner

    It would be quite cool if your novels turn out to be true in the future. However – you’ll never know!

    • Richard Dee

      That’s a real shame, it would be nice to see if they had been.

  2. P.J. MacLayne

    I write two series- one paranormal, and one mysteries- so very different in content. I made a game out of including references to the paranormal series in the mysteries. I don’t know how many people notice, but I get a kick out of it!

    • Richard Dee

      The more I write, the more I find places where the various series and stories overlap.

  3. Chris L Adams

    I’m in the process of developing my first crossover between two of my series. In Vol II of my Despair Series, in a novel called The Cosmos of Despair, the characters end up in a colony settled by people from Atlantis who had fled the barbarians who constantly attack their cities.

    In this new series I just began, Prehistoric Tales, the second volume is going to begin in the same city from which those people fled, mentioning the man who led the flight who later became king in the new city they build and who figures prominently in Cosmos.

    I’m not sure if anyone will catch the reference or not. If they have read Cosmos, they might. But I might also mention this connection in an Afterward. It is fun, as P.J. MacLayne mentioned, to toss these little connections in and then wonder if anyone figures it out.

    If I’m happy with how this cross-reference turns out, I’ll probably pursue further instances of it in the future. I think it’s neat to imagine the world as a single universe in which all of your characters exist, only perhaps at different times, and perhaps stumbling on the evidence of the passage of others at some point whose stories you have documented.

    Good post, Richard. And timely, as I’m thinking through this connection between series even as we speak.

    • Richard Dee

      Thanks, Chris, it’s funny how things come together. I never expected some of the connections that have cropped up between my series and how the stand-alone stories fit in and tie it together. And yes, it’s nice to see if readers spot them. Good luck with your projects.

  4. Amy Miller

    I love the magazine idea. Stories really do tend to build on each other. I’ve written side stories from my main world, and I love the chance to dive deeper into that world through a different viewpoint.

    • Richard Dee

      It’s a handy reference and a bigger project than I imagined. The number of places where you can deviate from your original narrative, and the ideas that flood in, never cease to amaze me.

  5. phil huston

    Jeez. All this stuff y’all are up to makes silly little books like three factions of alphabet soup agencies, a down on his luck pilot, another old pilot, a drug cartel, a money launderer and a greedy medicare fraud California chiropractor blowing up a small-town bank and each other in the Texas panhandle seem kinda spare. And the ex-cheerleader wanna be a feminist with a rock n roll boyfriend potty mouthcoming of age series flat out boring. Not to mention the kid Robin Hood from Houma, Louisiana and the lady who runs his company feeding would be arsonists to the alligators.
    Maybe I should go back to electronic music…

    History IS bunk because what we know of history was written by the winners. Tell it how it works for you. Backstory is one of those things, as Elmore Leonard says, that gets in the way or speedbumps your story if you’re not careful. Act like everyone in the books accepts a event as fact, next.

    • Richard Dee

      You can overload your world with too much information, or you can give it just enough to make sense. Personally, I try to avoid information dumps, I like to try and include any relevant backstory as part of a conversation or in another way that makes it part of the story and not just a list of facts. Too much is distracting, in my worlds you only get told what you need to know when you need to know it.

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