When it comes to high-profile series, it may seem intimidating to build on something that’s already been long-established. How can you expand a universe that’s already been built long before you arrived, and will likely stay long after you’ve gone?
The right mindset
At the online conference Pocket Gamer Connects Digital #5 (February 2021), New York Times bestselling author Cavan Scott shares inspiring anecdotes on how he landed writing gigs way back when. He also reveals how his work on comic books, novels, television and audio dramas have evolved today. Scott has written stories for Doctor Who, Star Trek, Transformers, Assassin’s Creed and more. He also penned narratives for Sherlock Holmes, Back to the Future, Vikings, Pacific Rim and Adventure Time.
More importantly, Scott masterfully crafted tales that expanded on well-loved franchises. In particular, Scott was one of the five story architects that weaved Lucasfilm’s Star Wars: The High Republic. In this video, he talks about how the skills he learned across different IPs helped him develop the right mindset. He learned that you should never chase the muse. Instead, you should set deadlines for yourself to sit down and do the work, while allowing yourself some room to refuel.
Limitations breed creativity
Scott shares valuable insights on how expanding an existing universe should inspire you instead of hold you back. The limitations set on an existing world should push you to get creative. It should drive you to find workarounds where you previously thought were none.
How do you incorporate story structure across varying formats? Does Scott have any recommended reads on mastering the craft? And, when it’s all said and done, do you actually need to use the “Save the Cat” structure? Towards the end of this Superstar Fireside Chat, Scott answers a few hand-picked questions from the audience to cap off the talk. If you’re interested in writing for existing universes, or you’ve always wanted to know if your early fanfiction writing days will still have value further down the road (spoiler: they will), this half-hour session is well worth your time.