Well, for this article in my series of articles about writing cyberpunk fiction (which were written at the same time I was writing this old series of short stories), I thought that I’d talk about a general writing technique that can work especially well in the cyberpunk genre.
I am, of course, talking about connecting a group of (otherwise self-contained) short stories. The main advantage of doing this is that it allows you to tell a larger story, whilst only writing several shorter stories. And, if like me, you find longer fiction projects considerably more difficult to write than shorter ones, then it can be invaluable.
1) Settings: The easiest way to connect a group of short stories is to have them take place in the same location. The main advantage of this is that it gives you a chance to develop the “world” of your stories and give them all a greater sense of place with only a relatively small amount of description in each story.
This is especially true if you set your stories somewhere fairly large, like a cyberpunk mega-city. By showing a plethora of different locations within the city in your short story collection, you can maintain the limited number of settings that allow each story to be focused (eg: really short stories should only contain 1-3 locations) whilst still giving the audience a tantalising glimpse at the larger city as a whole.
Plus, of course, the other advantage of doing this in the cyberpunk genre is that the place doesn’t actually have to be a physical place. It can be a virtual reality program or some other intriguing corner of cyberspace. For example, most or all of the cyberpunk short stories I wrote last year refer to a virtual reality program/website called “Winter Wonderland”, even though it’s only actually seen a couple of times in the collection.
2) Technology: Another easy way to connect a group of cyberpunk stories is to use the same futuristic technology in each short story. Since cyberpunk fiction often revolves around futuristic versions of the internet, this is something that you can do even if you don’t try that hard.
However, unless you’re basing your short story collection around the effects that one piece of futuristic technology has on the world, then different stories might require your characters to use different types of futuristic technology.
Still, if you set yourself a few basic rules about the technology in your story, then you can give the impression that all of your characters are using the same type of technology even if they use radically different gadgets in each of your stories.
3) Time: Another basic connection technique that can work quite well in the cyberpunk genre is simply to set all of your stories at the same time. For example, my old cyberpunk short story collection was originally posted online in the days before Christmas 2016. So, all of the stories were either set during the winter or featured references to Christmas.
But, even if you just do something simple like setting all of your stories at night or adding rainy weather to all of your stories, then they will still have a weak connection to each other.
Still, if you want to do something a bit more advanced, then come up with a major event that happens in the “world” of your story and then reference it in each of your short stories.
To go back to my earlier example, many of the short cyberpunk stories I wrote last year focused on the few people who didn’t spend Christmas inside the “Winter Wonderland” virtual reality world where most of the people in the city spend their holidays.
Anyway, I hope that this was useful 🙂