Integrity in The Mulitverse
Virginia Carraway Stark
It is one of our great joys at StarkLight Press to able to invite other voices and perspectives into our worlds. It’s a hard job to write in someone else’s universe and there are certain things that are a ‘no-no’ that you might be able to get away with a lot easier when it’s your own writing. As we have had a number of new arrivals on the GAF Mainframe scene, I thought I would take a few minutes out to talk about the basics of inter-universe writing.
When I first started writing in the GAF with Jorge and Tony I felt extremely overwhelmed. A lot of the GAF universe that I walked into was extremely technical and oriented more towards the technology of the GAF-verse rather than its timeline which is an area that I am more comfortable in. This was part of why they had sought me out and recruited my services- they wanted me to be brave and be bold and add my particular spectrum of life and colour to their universe. It was an honour and a privilage and I felt a great deal as though someone had thrown me a sparrow’s egg that I might drop or squish the fledgling universe with the slightest mistake. It wasn’t like that though and it was easy to add my flair to the GAF-verse when I let my love of the characters guide me.
Christopher Buxbie, Verily Wrought, Sasha Wheaton (in an early form), Annanth Halverrsson and Dominic Donovan were some of my early loves in the GAF. They were the center of the web that I would be instrumental in weaving inside a galaxy that had sprung initially from Tony’s mind. Quadrants were born, planets were mapped and given histories, aliens were categorized and illustrated and every piece was a part of the larger puzzle.
More writers began to be involved, and then we started to observe some strange behaviours in some of the new arrivals.
As a result, we at GAF HQ as it were have come up with a basic set of rules about our unique GAGA creative commons. These rules seem to be easily understood by most of our authors who report that they are really just being polite.
- Once something has been accepted for publication, don’t show it around to your family and friends.
What are the reasons for this? Well, first of all, anything set in a multiple author universe is going to require some pretty heavy editing until you become an expert in the universe in your own right.
Before editing, if you were to show it to a bunch of people you would be essentially spreading disinformation about someone else’s world.
The other reason is almost as important. We want people to buy our books or go to the website to read all the GAF stories- not just the one by you. We all work hard on making all these disparate elements into a working part of our fictional universe. This second point isn’t just about sales, this is also because the GAF is a group effort and the other people involved in it deserve to be noticed and involved as well- all the more so if you are utilizing parts of their hard work to come up with a story. Sharing around writing that is a) not edited to be true to the univere, and b) isn’t promoted through the proper channels to everyone’s benefit is- will, it is vulgur and selfish. It’s kind of slutty. Why should anyone buy the cow when they can get the milk for free?
Finally the final reason: it is profoundly disrespectful to everyone else involved and shows that you are not a team player. You’d rather have some quick, less lasting and useful ego boosting than work toward getting the amazing world that is the GAF-verse out there to entertain more readers. So be a team player and keep it to yourself until the story is ready and published on one of our sites, or in an ebook or print copy. Then you can promote, promote, promote, share links and sell copies to your heart’s content.
- Don’t claim something someone else did as your own. Be sure you give credit where it’s due.
Why should I even have to say this? Well, it seems obvious but when people want a quick hit of ‘pay attention to me’ and they publish something prematurely, the fan writing can easily make a mistake. Once misinformation is out there about who created what or significant information about the GAF-verse has been misrepresented, it is awfully hard to ‘correct’ that mistake.
It can be very easy to just let the mistake go, especially in your own circle, and leave your immediate sphere convinced you invented Annanth, or the GAF- or the question mark, for that matter.
Easy and highly unethical. Just watch the Tim Burton movie ‘Big Eyes’ to see the dark road this sort of sloppiness can bring people down.
It leads to hurt feelings and interpersonal strife, and people becoming stingy with their creativity. For good reason, too- because you JUST STOLE FROM THEM. When people get stingy, the GAF-verse dries up. Only in an open environment where we are all respectful and mutually acknowledging of our work can the GAF-verse continue in its dynamic phase.
- Be humble.
Remember that sparrow’s egg? Yeah. That’s you now. You’ve been writing in the GAF-verse for a few years now and have some fascinating planets, characters and work you’ve accomplished. It’s all going swimmingly. Now imagine tossing those babies to an author who follows these rules to the letter.
A great time will be had by all. More creativity, more fun.
Imagine tossing your babies to an author who is self-aggrandizing, acquisitive, non-acknowledging, and- gasp- a SPOILER machine. Lots of sparrow yolk everywhere.
So be humble.
If you are writing in another person’s universe it is your job to stay within the confines of that universe. You aren’t there to revolutionize it or rethink it, not here to claim it for your own or twist the universe and its characters into positions anathema to them. The arrogance of thinking you have the mad skills to just come in and make an omelete of all the GAF’s sparrow eggs means that you don’t belong in anyone else’s world. If you feel that you should be immune to edits for content, plot or structure out of the gate then you aren’t a team player and you need to go out and get your own universe, and remember not to steal from the GAF-verse you just left, or the Halo-verse, or MarioWorld for that matter. If you can’t follow these basic rules, you obviously have a vision so complete you won’t need to do those things… right?
Be wary though, if you can’t play well with others, any universe becomes a lonely place in a hurry.
So that’s it- three simple rules that, when followed, have given the GAF-verse it’s incredible depth, detail and ever growing and expanding nature. We welcome all of our new authors with open arms, and encourage them to study the Encyclopedia Galactica, to ask questions of the GAF High Command, and most of all, to let their imaginations flow.
Written by Virginia Carraway Stark,
with input by Tony Stark and