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Screenwriter’s Monthly: Adventures In The Multiverse

By April 27, 2023May 24th, 2023No Comments

Screenwriter's Monthly- Adventures In The MultiverseWelcome to Screenwriter’s Monthly, our series (and email newsletter) that offers interviews with notable screenwriters, in-depth advice from career professionals, and insight and analysis of the latest filmmaking trends. The best part? It’s all here, just like the old morning paper.

What topic are we exploring this month? In another reality we might be covering any number of things, but in this one, we’re exploring the multiverse.

Whether you’re a seasoned pro or new to the screenwriting biz, grab a coffee and buckle up — this digestible roundup of important film and television news is for you. 

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Explorations In The Multiverse

Is it just us, or does everyone seem obsessed with the possibility that our timeline isn’t alone? When you look at everything from award-winning indies to prestige TV to blockbuster IP, it would be fair to say that the multiverse is…so hot right now. 

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The idea of a multiverse—many parallel realities, each branching off from every minute decision we make—has religious, philosophical and scientific origins. Among scientific circles, the multiverse theory has vacillated between outlandish fantasy and the solution to physics’ most burning problem—what is dark matter

Hollywood has also been fascinated with this concept—from a Twilight Zone astronaut to a Kansas girl who falls into a cyclone-wormhole.

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But despite these earlier examples, it’s clear that we’re living in the era of the multiverse. Everything Everywhere All At Once is arguably one of the most popular movies ever—a favorite among critics, fans and the industry alike. And the Marvel Cinematic Universe is officially the Marvel Cinematic Multiverse, with Dr. Strange, Spiderman, and others now following their comic book counterparts in venturing across the lines between worlds. 

So why is the concept of the multiverse increasingly popular at the moment? In this issue, we’ll dive into the reasons — and how we can use that analysis to inform our writing, sci-fi or otherwise.

Why Multiverse?

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How has this crazy sci-fi concept become so popular? Why do writers and audiences alike find it so enticing? Let’s make like the multiverse and consider the possibilities.

Second Chances

The desire for a second chance is relatable, and the fulfillment of that desire is a fantasy—so audiences get to identify and escape with these stories simultaneously. Take Mike Cahill’s Another Earth starring Brit Marling. In the film from 2011, a second version of our planet comes face to face with ours. Marling’s character, Rhoda, eventually sees this other planet as a second chance for the lives she had ruined years before in a drunk driving accident. 

She’s not alone; Scarlet Witch wants a second shot at having a family in another multiverse hit, Dr. Strange and the Multiverse of Madness. In many of these stories, the seduction of that second chance is what our characters must overcome. Often, not even the multiverse allows true do-overs. Audiences can relate to that too.

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“Most people only have a few significant alternate life paths so close to them. But you, here, you’re capable of anything because you’re so bad at everything.” – Everything Everywhere All At Once, Alpha Waymond to Evelyn.

Relatability is critical for any story, and what’s more relatable than underdogs? And they often pop up in the best multiverse stories. Michele Yeoh’s Evelyn from Everything Everywhere All At Once is an underdog of the first degree. She’s given up every dream she’s ever had, and audiences identify with that. The inciting incident in the film is Evelyn’s inability to do her taxes correctly. She’s not a legacy Jedi. She’s not a superhero. She’s a laundromat owner whose marriage is on the rocks. But even though there are more impressive Evelyns living her old dreams, she’s the multiverse’s only hope.

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More is More

In EEAAO, not only do we get loveable characters, but we get to see more than one version of them—from suave CEO Waymond to Jobu Tapaki. These other versions are fun and interesting and they illuminate our hero-verse characters in ways only the multiverse can. 

As writers, we’re wise to ask questions like, “What if my character gave in to this darkness?” But in the multiverse genre, our audience gets to see it happen. We also see how our heroes’ choices have gotten them where they need to be. Spoiler: The grass isn’t always greener in the other verse.

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Escape From Reality—Or, This One

The real world is complicated. So it’s fun to fantasize about other timelines where there’s no climate change or COVID. Perhaps some of us want to make like the Scarlet Witch and ditch Earth 616. Multiverse stories can be extreme escapism. Don’t be afraid to harness that.

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Following The Fun

Lastly, the multiverse is just good solid fun. The idea that there might be many other yous out there, living every possible version of your life—whether that means you’re fulfilling childhood dreams as a marine biologist or pro athlete, or you’ve got hot dogs for hands—is, well, wild. Anything can happen. Multiverse stories are extreme world-building because you can build as many worlds as you like. And that leads us to our…

Writing Exercise: What If…

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Whether you’re writing a sci-fi epic or a romantic comedy, taking a multiverse approach to your story at any stage—outlining or rewriting a full script—can open you up to unexpected possibilities. All you have to do is ask yourself, “what if…?” 

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If you’re a fan of Marvel’ multiverse cartoon What If…. you may know where this is going.

Here’s a step-by-step guide to a multiverse writing exercise.

*Keep in mind: This isn’t to turn every story into an expanding multiverse. But instead to illuminate the story we’re telling in new lights. The goal may be to take the answers to these questions and let them inform your original script. But, of course, you never know what you may want to keep.

1. Start with your protagonist. Write their name at the top of a blank page and circle it.

2. Then, flow chart style, draw some more circles, branching out from your character. Write some key elements that make them who they are. 

3. Next, more circles— in the simplest terms, connect those key character elements to your crucial plot points, including your inciting incident, rising, action, climax, and resolution. Here’s a refresher on plot elements. Don’t worry about being academic; just get a simple version of your story’s events on the page. 

For example:

  • Rose 
  • Rose is a waitress. 
  • While on shift, Rose meets Janice, the story’s love interest. 
  • Janice pulls Rose into a bank heist.
  • Rose and Janice fall in love.
  • Janice steals Rose’s cut of the money to pay back debtors.
  • Rose discovers this and confronts Janice.
  • Janice gets the money back. 
  • Rose and Janice escape their life of crime using the money.

Don’t worry if things get a little messy. They’re gonna get messier. 

4. Next, cross out that first character element. And make up something new. 

  • Rose
  • Rose is a waitress marine biologist 

5. Now see where that takes your story. Keep your structure and general story the same, but let each change influence the next one.

  • Rose is a waitress marine biologist.
  • While on shift, Rose meets Janice, the story’s love interest. While studying dolphins in the Atlantic Ocean, Rose meets Janice, who is an exotic animal smuggler.
  • Janice pulls Rose into a bank heist. Janice pretends to work at Rose’s aquarium. 
  • Rose and Janice fall in love.
  • Janice steals a valuable octopus from the aquarium.
  • Rose discovers this and has Janice arrested.
  • Janice escapes and gets the octopus back.
  • Rose and Janice defeat the exotic animal syndicate.

6. That got wild, right? Now, do it again, asking yourself, “what if?” What if Janice was Rose’s ex in addition to being the love interest? What if they were both dolphins? What if the octopus started to talk? What happens to your characters and themes as you experiment with these parallel versions You may see the themes more clearly. What character traits arise across versions? Are there any plot holes you didn’t notice before? When your characters are put into new circumstances, how do they act?

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This multiverse approach can inform any script at any stage in the writing process. Whether you have writer’s block early on, you need an inspiration refresh, or you’re on your final draft, asking “what if?” can take your script to new heights.

What To Watch

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Everything Everywhere All At Once

This no-hold-barred action comedy starring Michelle Yeoh uses the multiverse genre in unprecedented ways.


This thriller is a perfect example of mind-bending sci-fi on a budget.

To Every You I’ve Loved Before and To the Only One Who Loved You, Me

Yomoji Otono’s’s two novels have been adapted simultaneously. The author says, “The order in which you watch the two films will greatly change the way you feel about them.”


Henry Selick’s adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s novella puts a horror spin on the multiverse genre.


The OA

Brit Marling’s verse-jumping series has one of the craziest endings of anything ever.

Rick and Morty

Tracking Rick and Morty through their portal-hopping adventures is part of the fun—whether we’re following the same versions of the titular heroes is seemingly up for debate.


The MCU’s first foray into the multiverse was actually this timeline-hopping series starring everyone’s favorite variant.


A manga is a portal to a parallel world in this romantic Korean drama series.

What’s Coming

Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse

Miles Morales returns to battle seemingly every version of Spider-Man in the multiverse.


Zoe Lister-Jones is giving us a grounded take on the multiverse genre with this new series.


While you’re soaring through the multiverse—your fingers typing at the speed of light—it’s a good idea to get grounded with some feedback. Check out our affordable coverage services get detailed notes from the best in the biz.

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Until next time!

Read More: Screenwriter’s Monthly: Spotlight on Black Writers