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Writing Workshop Excerpts

Here is the first of our lecture excerpts from Editor in Chief Virginia Carraway Stark’s writing workshops. This excerpt is taken from her opening statements on our Writing in the Multiverse Series, which started in January and just finished up the last week of April. Congratulations on our 14 attendees’ completion of the course, and a big thanks to everyone who attended in addition to getting accreditation!

You can book for this summer’s courses on writing at StarkLight Press by checking back here the end of June, when our Fall Schedule will be posted. For more info before then, feel free to drop a query to

copyright 2015 Virginia Carraway Stark.

“What is the multiverse? The multiverse is the concept that places, times and characters all exist simultaneously regardless of constraints of the four dimensions. In writing, the mulitiverse is ultimate freedom and ultimate responsibility.

Many people are overwhelmed by the idea of creating one universe. This is fair because creating a universe requires not only dedication and the ability to multi-task, but also vision. Attention to detail is integral because a failure to possess such details makes the universe you have made a crude and uninteresting place that nobody wants to be stuck in. In order to create a universe you must have a crystal clear vision of the constraints of your universe and how that plays out in terms of locations, distances, resources and all the things that we learn in social studies class. Add to that that you must have a clear idea of timeline including the history that has made your universe different from the other universes and you begin to see how it becomes a complicated structure to hold steady in your mind.

Let’s say for the purpose of this exercise that you have created a science fiction universe. In this universe everything has been influenced by advances in nanotechnology. The main limitation on your universe is that they have remained loyal to nanotechnology at the expense of all other technologies.

This is a very basic universe. It is set in the not too distant future, say, 2070. Thanks to nanotech, humanity has found ways to terraform and make the majority of the solar system habitable. They don’t have the ability to leave the solar system, their technology simply hasn’t had enough time to evolve to that level but leaving the solar system is a major goal in this hypothetical universe.

Here I have created a very simple universe by keeping it within the constraints of what I know of my current universe. I only have a little over fifty years of history to discover and that comes with a lot of limits on how different things can really be from this universe.

We will call this little universe 2070. 2070 is a universe that is close to our own. This is a great jumping off point for making any universe because it is also the start of a timeline. It has very clear rules, no one has left the solar system and the only new technologies must be almost exclusively nanotechnology that could reasonably have been discovered and implemented in fifty years and a bit.

Lets say that I want to expand 2070. 2070 is now 2170. 2170 has discovered that nanotechnology wasn’t as safe as everyone had hoped. There are so many places that this can be taken to and 2170 begins to get far enough away to branch into multiverse options.

In 2170 they discovered that the nanotechnology had been hijacked by a hostile alien force in the year 2090. They have spent the past eighty years at war with an enemy that they can’t see. Since nanotechnology has been used in medicine, food, transportation and terraforming just to name a few, there is no safe place and no one is completely safe from being tampered with.


In a dimension not far away, in 2170b, it was discovered that nanotechnology was sucseptable to a rare form of cosmic radiation that disabled all of it in the year 2112. The result was colonists stranded throughout the solar system and a complete collapse of government. Many people didn’t survive and many of those who did were forced to live underground in a survival of the strongest ‘world gone mad’ scenario.

Now put a hero into each story.

In both universes the hero is a man who was raised according to vanished principles and ideas. His parents were through backs who didn’t believe in nanotechnology making life too easy and they avoided it as much as possible for both themselves and their son. The result: in 2170 Hero is one of the only ones who isn’t under the influence of the nanotech controlled by aliens. He has freewill and the courage and the resources to fight for the human race.

In 2170b, Hero has the courage and resources to teach the survivors of the nano-pocalypse how to survive without the help of the nanobots anymore. He rallies them together and finds a way to grow food, patch together habitats that may otherwise be exposed to the void of space, maybe he even gathers survivors from different planets, develops new science to replace what has been lost.

This is an example of what could be the start of a bigger multiverse.

Heroes and situations must be both credible and engaging and your understanding of both must be much more profound than merely creating a universe. This is the very basic start and it is deliberately simplistic to attempt to explain the complex reality that is the ultimate holy grail of writing: the multiverse.”