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.
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-canon story just for fun and not really a part of the timeline?
Each story was a stand-alone, and HAD NO VOLUME NUMBERS.
The only reason the series has volume numbers now, is because Amazon requires there to be volum numbers on a series published via Kindle.
Early volumes of the series (1970s through 1980s) were published via limited edition short run local vanity press, and thus were not available to the mass market. Later volumes of the series (1997 to 2012) were published via FanFiction.net and was popular mostly with English speak, Japanese readers. The current reprints (2014 to 2017+) are available on Amazon Kindle and Amazon Paperback Beta and sells predominantly in Japan, Germany, and Brazil, with fewer than 2% of sales going to the rest of the world and 97% of all American sales being returned.
In the early days there were no volume numbers and also no continuation as well as no consistency in chronology. You only start seeing those things after the series moved to Amazon Kindle because of Kindle's requirements.
Originally known as The Twighlight Manor Series, it was renamed The Quaraun series in 2014, after I got fed with receiving tens of thousands of emails misdirected to me via fans of Twilight. (This was due to a fan website misquoting my email address and the email address of the author of Twilight, apparently after they found my website and mistook my Twighlight Manor series for the Twilight series instead.) Renaming the series seems to have worked, because from 2008 onward I was receiving tens of thousands of emails and in total received more than 9 million Edward related emails. I knew there was something wrong when I suddenly got 9 million emails from screaming fan girls seeing how the Quaraun series only has about 7,000 fans. How my email ended up being listing on a website as Steph Myers contact info, remains a mystery. However from 2014 onwards, after changing the name of the series from The Twighlight Manor series (the name it was since 1978) to The Quaraun series, I have not received a single Eddy fan-mail. Thus why the series went from being called The Twighlight Manor series from 1978 to 2014 and the Quaraun series since 2014.
Amazon has the Quaraun series listed under several categories:
When I published it, I listed it under:
How Amazon determined the other categories is a mystery to me.
While I agree with most of the categories Amazon decided to place it in, I believe these two to be inaccurate:
I would not classify it as Romance of any type, gay, transgender, or otherwise, but, those are the categories Amazon decided to put it in.
The Quaraun series is about 3 travelling wizards. (Two High Elves and a sex crazed Unicorn.)
Frequently traveling with:
Quaraun has a pet dragon whom he resurrected as a Lich after she died:
Other characters they meet throughout the series include:
You start to see a trend in the naming process that goes into naming characters in Absurdism, right?
Unlike typical Fantasy, the High Elves are called High because they are drug addicts. One, the world's most powerful and most feared necromancer, wears eye-popping neon pink sequins ball gowns and feather boas and spends most of his days resurrecting dead roses and trying to avoid being raped by the sex crazed purple unicorn who is also his drug dealer.
When he's not wandering the planet aimlessly, he lives in a lighthouse that's shaped like a giant errect, pink, dick. Lots of things in the series are shaped like pink dicks. It's also difficult to turn a page without being faced with the word penis, cock, dick, testicals, or balls.
The unicorn is himself a wizard, who lives in a gingerbread house that falls out of the sky and lands wherever, whenever...he doubles as Santa's chef and built Santa's gingerbread village.
The 3rd wizard is a teenaged Dungeon Master from the 1970s who grow up with hippies, and one day while his hippie gang were escaping a police drug raid, he jumped in his LSD filled 1974 AMC Gremlin to discover the car was a time machine that tossed him back to 1400's Quebec, where he now lives with the pink necromancer and his sex crazed unicorn.
As many readers have (correctly) pointed out the series reads disjointedly. Scenes do not flow smoothly one to the next and often read as though soething is missing.
Additionally there are no chapters.
Each novel stands on it's own, not connected to any others and is a stand alone story not a continuing serial.
Each story is told by a series of scenes, from the perspective of the main character, Quaraun.
Most scenes start with Quaraun waking up and wondering where he is and how he got there.
Each scene reads like it is it's own story and as readers pointed out, feels not connected to the rest of the story. This is because of multiple things:
All of these things combine to result in Quaraun has difficulty staying awake. And yet he is the point of view character. Because he passes out multiple times a day, you see every scene start with him waking up and looking around and wondering where he is and what happened. Sometimes it takes him only a few seconds to come to his senses and move on with the story. Sometimes he is suffering from memory lapse and it takes an entire scene or more for him to get back on track to where he was previously in the story.
But then once the story gets back on track, it makes not be back on track at all, and the scenes suddenly devolve into a waking nightmare that Quaraun can not run from, with Quaraun talking to people, visiting places, and seeing things that simply are not there at all. The reader is led to believe that what Quaraun just experienced, really happened, because Quaraun believe it really happened and Quaraun is the point of view character. However, these scenes are in fact not happening at all. Quaraun is talking to no one, seeing nothing and going no where, all the while his friends are trying to snap him out of the LSD induced state he is in...but the reader does not know this because Quaraun doesn't know this.
The entire Quaraun series passes in a dream like state of never knowing what is real and what isn't.
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 teenaged 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.
Definitely GhoulSpawn's coat of many pockets.
One of my wizard's, GhoulSpawn, is a thief. Compulsive pickpocket. As in a psychological issue that he can't stop doing no matter how much he tries. That's not the weird thing. The weird thing is that as a result of this, he has to hide the things he's stolen, so no one knows he steals them, but he's a homeless travelling vagabond wizard, so he can't carry much on him....so... here's the ridiculous part...
He made himself a huge long coat, which on the outside looks like a regular coat, but on the inside has dozens of pockets all up and down the hole thing. If anyone notices the pockets and looks in, they see nothing. If they reach in, they get nothing. HOWEVER, each pocket is in fact a bag of holding, disguised as a pocket, and each one can hold insane amounts of items.
The two other wizards he is travelling with, Quaraun and Unicorn, know he's a thief and know about the coat pockets, so whenever they need something they ask if he has it, assuming that at some point he MUST have stolen whatever the item they need is... these scenes in the novels are always followed by him emptying his pockets, looking for the item they need, and out comes the most insane things, everything from the normal small items you'd expect to find in a pocket to shovels, cows, cannons, and sheep... as there is time travel involved in the series, he also pulls out cars (specifically a stolen 1974 AMC Gremlin, a car that people often joke is small enough to carry in your pocket) and even a kitchen sink (even though the series is set in the 1400s).