I am answering random questions today about world building, over on Reddit and decided to take my answers from there and expand upon them even further over here. So that's what this page is. Me rambling on about various aspects of world building techniques I use when writing the Quaraun series. The questions I am answering are embedded here. Clicking the link in the embedded question will take you to the original Reddit page where you can see the original answer along with other people's answers. If you wish to comment, you can do so on the Reddit page where a place to do so is provided.
> For those who don't know what I'm referring to, see this page I've seen a lot of criticism against Fantasy and Sci-Fi Kitchen Sink worlds lately. This gets me thinking what qualifies as a Kitchen Sink in the first place?
First, let's find out what a "Kitchen Sink World" is...
The "Kitchen Sink World" definition is this:
"What happens when All Myths Are True is turned Up to Eleven? You get a Fantasy Kitchen Sink! Everything is true, even if it comes from vastly different origins. So not only are there really fairies, there are ghosts, Vampires, werewolves, mummies, zombies, aliens, time travelers, espers, angels, demons, gods, Eldritch Abominations, Precursors, magic, and so on."
It goes on to say that it is ONLY USED IN EPISODIC SERIES such as TV shows and comic books, which require lots of small, unrelated, stand-alone plots, none of them connected to any of the others.. Meaning you can't have it is an stand alone novel, no matter what you toss into your novel. That aspect is explained when it says this:
"In general when you have a Fantasy Kitchen Sink, the premise is mostly used for Monster of the Week plots — where there's one Myth Arc that focuses on a fantastic element and a bunch of totally unrelated sub-arcs about various lesser creatures or beings."
When is says "Monster of the Week plots" it literally means you are writing and PUBLISHING 52 short stories every year and have to be pulling random plots out your ass faster then heck, to the point that your stories have no consistency, and you are tossing random species into your story line, because you are writing against a deadline and your publisher doesn't care that you world had no allowance made for a witch to pop in and put a curse on your characters, but your publisher saw your competitor use a witch last week, so you are forced to slap a witch in your story for next week, and it doesn't matter how many times you tell your publisher "But there are no witches in my universe" because you'll lose your job is you don't jam that witch into our next story one way or the other.
It is authors working against deadlines - often dozens of authors, working on the same project, that result in a high rate of inconsistency in comic books. (I worked in the comic book industry, so I know, most readers would be stunned at how any consistency got to exists at all, if they knew the scatterbrains way they have to answer to the whims of editors and publishers who don't care about the story and only care about deadlines and profits.)
The "Kitchen Sink World" definition goes on to explain...
"There's no overlap between the different genre creatures. The alien bounty hunters do not run into the vampires, the angels, or the superhuman (non-alien involvement) mutants; only the main characters. It's as if there are a bunch of disconnected secret worlds lurking under and above the surface of the real world and the heroes are the only ones who go between them. Occasionally, they do interact in the form of a Monster Mash."
When it says "There's no overlap between the different genre creatures." It means you have vampires in volume 1, only because volume 1 happened to has a release date of October, so you decided to add vampires tome your world for a one time shot, to be used ONLY IN THAT VOLUME of your series, and never to be seen in your series again, because vampires don't normally exist in your world. Thus your character never meet vampires except for when it will boost sales of your next issue because your next issue will be released close to Halloween.
It DOES NOT mean, you have vampires and aliens both together in your one shot/stand alone novel because you created a world that included vampires and aliens.
If however you were writing a SERIES OF NOVELS and normally vampires and aliens ARE NOT a part of your world, but you decide to write novel #8 of the series to feature a vampire, because heck vampires are cool, so why not, even though your world-building process made no mention of vampires and logically vampires do not fit in your world, but then in novel #9, your characters act as though the vampire in novel #8 never happened, now you have a "Kitchen Sink".
If by novel number 13 in the series you decide, heck, aliens are awesome, I'm gonna have them be abducted by aliens for no reason other than I feel like writing about aliens today. Your publisher is asking "What the heck's wrong with you, you never once mentioned aliens in the previous 12 volumes, what are you doing? This doesn't fit the world you created, have you run out of ideas?"
Batman and Superman are both Kitchen Sink Worlds, largely because every volume is written by a different authors with more then 200 authors working on each series, resulting in each author seeing the world in a different light so writing each story a different way.
This results in what is the primary component of the Kitchen Sink World: INCONSISTENCY and a lack of easily identifiable chronology.
Meaning: Readers can't tell: Did volume 1 happen AFTER volume 3 and before volume 300, but between volumes 410 and 411? Was the Halloween Vampire special just a dream that never happened at all, since vampires are never used in any other volume? Wait, did Santa Claus REALLY give Batman Christmas presents in that one? Does that mean Santa Claus is REAL in Batman's world or was that meant to be a non-cannon story just for fun and not really a part of the time line?
I used to do a series on fanfiction . net that was Kitchen Sink. It was known as "The Bride of Sesshomaru" and went like this:
I took Lord Sesshomaru out of InuYasha...
... on board the Pirate Ship Rent-a-Prize,
with Captain Quirk, Mr Schlok, Kink-Off, Biscotti, Looloo, and Dr. Macaw
With a trio of out of work tv actors BatDude, Pigeon Poop Boy, and The Jiggler...
I gave him a best friend (ZooLock) who was a Mind Flayer with a pet vampire rabbit and pet lime green jelly cube
...and then every week, I wrote a short story, which ended with me asking the readers....
"What should I toss at them next week?"
Readers of fanfic dot net loved it because they could suggest anything and everything and no matter how crazy it was, I would write a story about it...
...and readers gave me everything under the sun to toss into these stories...
EVERYTHING under the sun...
including the kitchen sick, ironically,
...got tossed at them for the next 7 years.
When I say including the kitchen sink, I mean, that was a suggestion... there was one character who was a demon wearing a time lord coat, with dozens of pockets that were bigger on the inside. One reader suggested... what if the entire story evolved around something they had lost, because he put it in his pocket, but he can't remember which pocket he put it in and the entire story is just them waiting for him while he pulls out tons of hilarious items out of his coat pocket, like a kitchen sink and sheep and stuff...
The end result was a story titled: "It Came From Behind The Kitchen Sink" and included a scene where he pulls a kitchen sink out of his pocket and is left trying to explain to the others, how it got in there.
GhoulSpawn swears up and down that he did not put it there, and then tells them this wild story of how he is being stalked by a flying pink goldfish that lives in the clouds and is trying to drive him crazy.
but you know... the Quaraun series never explains how a wizard in the 1400s (before either kitchens or sinks were invented) came to even know what a kitchen sink was, let alone have one in his pocket... and thus we come to the very definition of "Kitchen Sink Fantasy", and WHY it's called "kitchen sink" because... in a world where kitchen sinks don't exist it's not possible to pull one out of your pocket!
At the same time he was also trying to hide that fact that he had sheep in his pockets. He'd pull out a sheep, then quickly stuff it back in his pockets hoping no one would see it. When asked:
"What's the sheep doing in your pockets?"
And pretend they were not there, which resulted in the rumour that GhoulSpawn had sex with sheep.
The reality is he's an animal rights activist and rescues lambs from meat farms, and has a sheep farm where the sheep live, but he's considered an "eco-terrorist" by police, and is wanted for stealing sheep, so can't let anyone know he has the sheep the police are looking for.
This resulted in a running gag of every time the character GhoulSpawn showed up, to have him pulling sheep out of his pockets and other characters teasing him about his sex life. GhoulSpawn, by the way is an alchemist who turns wool into gold, and raises "golden fleece"... his sheep are all pastel and glitter colours as a result of this.
Sadly the series is no longer on fanfiction . net as I was one of the 11,000 authors who logged in November 2011 to find they had deleted without warning EVERY M-rated story out of their database. :(
Fortunately, I had backups of the whole thing and at fan request am now compiling the stories into novelised editions on Amazon with all the copyrighted characters removed.
People who did not know the series from fanfiction .net, and were introduced to it via the novels on Amazon, have contacted me to ask: "What the hell is this? Do these story continue? What order am I supposed to be reading them? Why does this say volume 1 but it takes place after volume 3?"
I end up having to explain to them how the Quaraun series was written, what it started out as, and the fact that in it's original form it had no plot line going from one story to the next and was literally just me taking reader requests and writing the craziest thing possibly so me and readers of it could have a laugh at how crazy we could get it to be.
It didn't start out with the intention of becoming a novelized series, so people used to reading a novel series that continues (Like Harry Potter where volume 1 really does mean volume 1 and you read straight through to volume 7) have a hard time grasping the concept of a series that spans 130 novels volumes and can be read in any order what so ever because none of them logically connects to any of the others in a smooth flow of order.
The Quaraun series is therefore extremely "Kitchen Sink" even without GhoulSpawn pulling kitchen sinks out of his pockets.
I've never heard of the term Kitchen Sink used in a stand alone, one shot novel and I'm not sure it could be done, as the very definition of a Kitchen Sink World, is one that uses different, unconnected themes EACH EPISODE/VOLUME and so, if you tossed everything into one story, logic dictates that they BELONG in the one story, and your readers are not made to stop reading and say: "What a minute... Superman didn't have pink elephants from outer space before did he?" which results in the reader now pulling out hundreds of Superman issues to see if they can figure out a logical reason why the pink elephants from outer space showed up... was there any foreshadowing they missed, or are the elephant just Kitchen Sinks walking around for no reason at all?
Perhaps there is another definition for a Kitchen Sink World, one that I'm not familiar with and one that is used in stand alone novel world building, but if there is, it's not a term I'm familiar with, so I'm not sure how one would go about writing it.
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