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I'm mostly thinking about large scale stories here. Universes with stories in them. At least movie length, novel length, but also story series of every kind. There are at least five option for how it is done:

1. Stand alone stories. Everything important to the story happens in one chunk. There can be subplots, but basically the characters and the world have one big problem and once it is done, the story is over, and while you could write smaller/different stories in that world or with those characters, you couldn't write a sequel that's remotely similar without diminishing the importance of original story. Lord of the Rings, for example. Also most romances.

2. Big events series. There are a lot of episodes that are of roughly equal importance. Turning points in a life, for example. I would say that the movie portion of the Marvel Cinematic Universe is of this type. Also the Vorkosigan series (which is why the last few Miles books are sort of unsatisfying to me, because they're not of equal importance to Miles as the stuff that happened in earlier books).

3. Episodic series about outsiders coming into what are basically stand-alone stories. Most long detective series are of this type, with the detective(s) as outsider(s). Any tv shows with plot of the week are like this. The pure form of this is rather old-fashioned (i.e. the kind of show/series where the characters didn't change), because it's more common now to have--

4. Like #3, but with character growth / ongoing story arcs in addition to the plot of the week. Buffy season arcs, for example.

5. Reacting to the world stories. Ongoing stories. What I would call a serial. Unlike #3, things don't stay the same, the world keeps turning and the characters keep doing things and changing and moving along with their life. Gilmore Girls. The Master and Commander book series. Once Upon a Time. (I was reluctant to put it here initially because there are episodes that are strongly episodic, but every episode has repercussions and everyone has to keep dealing with whatever happens, on and on, so yes, it goes here.)


The thing is, if you're writing a #3 (episodic) type series (or something on the continuum from #3 to #4 - episodic with story arc), you have to have a premise that fits the episodic mold. Your characters on a starship visiting different places each episode (Star Trek). Your characters are detectives solving a different murder each episode. And in order to do that, your premise has to center on something that is common in the world. There are lots of different places in the Star Trek universe, and lots of people get murdered.

Based on the first episode, Agents of SHIELD seems to have episodic elements, and the thing that repeats and is therefore a very common thing in the world seems to be set up to be "weird shit". Superheroes, weird tech, strange formulas, unearthly secrets.

Which is a gigantic departure from the worldbuilding that was needed for the movie portion of the universe. The big event model of the MCU movies needs personal challenges, and therefore tends to tie everything together far more strongly. The villains had personal ties with the heroes. And there was a very limited amount of "weird shit", really, taken on a global scale. You didn't get the impression that weird shit was hiding everywhere, but rather that it was fairly unusual.

At least, that's the impression that I got. The world was the world, with maybe some cooler tech like better touch-based computer displays, but in general, pretty much the same. Plus some very specific weird shit.

And my concept of the Avengers and what makes them interesting is that they're somewhat unique. The best (or the worst in some ways). The most unusual. Their world is not filled with weird shit to the extent that an "unregistered gifted" is a common concept.

And that's what I want to write about. I want to explore the weird shit that we already have in more depth, explore the implications of the things that have happened, and then take those implications and explore the implications of the implications...

I'm pretty sure that to some extent, that's what Agents of SHIELD is going to do. They've already used Chitauri tech as a minor plot point, but I bet it doesn't stop there. I liked that the superhero guy was connected in a distant way to some of the other superheroes and the explanations of why they're unusual...I liked that it wasn't just weirdness out of nowhere.

But they're also going to dilute the special, and quite frankly I've seen that world. I'm not even that into superheroes, but that world is all over the place, isn't it? I mean, X-Men, and The Incredibles, there's a webcomic like that, or maybe a few dozen, and so on...and every time I see that world, it seems to be acknowledged that it's a take on a common concept...

You've got lone wolf superheroes too...

But the team of unique people who are the only such team in the world...that's not so common, and that's what I'm interested in.

Just because of what it is, Agents of SHIELD changes the MCU world in a lot of ways. And because of what I want to write (an Avengers-based serial), I don't need that kind of world, and it gets in the way of the concept that I'm really interested in. So that's why I'm probably not going to be using Agents of SHIELD canon in my MCU-verse story.
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