Now that it comes down to it, I have the option of tying all these stories and books together into one expanded family of stories. But... should I? I mean, what would be the point, other than complicating what I write going forward? Because if I tie them together, that means I'll need to make up timelines for when each story takes places, but I'll also need to do crossover cameos for characters and reference events from other stories in whatever I write going forward.
Here's my favorites to give examples:
FF7... I only played the Remake so far and they made it very on the nose with a literal manifestation of destiny and a fight against it. The original probably works with the nature of the planet and all that and the way that Sephiroth, Cloud, and co. were experiments, but can't say for certain.
FF8 has the timey wimey stuff going on. There's a great analysis somewhere that explains Ultimecea as a compelling antagonist (whether or not you agree with the article title) and fills in a lot of gaps on the theme if this game did not make much sense.
FF10 has the cycle of Sin in which Yuna is trying to fulfill her destiny to martyrdom. Also, the romance between Titus and Yuna is beautiful thematically. They grapple with destiny in an interpersonal way as they walk similar paths as their fathers.
FF13 is about defying this curse of the L'Cie. Snow still wants to marry his love regardless and Lightning will stop at nothing to save her sister.
I think if you have these thematic and (obviously genre similarities) then it can work to tie your stories together into a multiverse of sorts. It sounds like the overhead of a multiverse might stifle your creativity though, based on what you said in your post.
I'd say it all comes down to what option appeals to you more.
Do crossovers appeal to you? Does it sound fun to connect the two stories and make things fit together?? If so, go for it.
Does it stress you out, and seem like more trouble than it's worth? If so, don't worry about it.
However it is interesting to think about, like when Billy Bob Thornton appeared in a guest role on The Big Bang theory and played a role totally unlike any other role he has played before!
Quote:Because if I tie them together, that means I'll need to make up timelines for when each story takes places, but I'll also need to do crossover cameos for characters and reference events from other stories in whatever I write going forward.
Eh, you don't necessarily need to put that much thought into it. If you want to do cameos, do cameos, if you want to have timelines, do timelines, but it's not like everything needs to fit together perfectly and all align according to some master plan. Just do what seems fun, and leave the rest alone.
The Legend of Zelda games are an excellent example of this. They always kinda felt like they were connected in some way, but it was never really that important to any game. (Admittedly, the time-travel stuff didn't help.) And although there's now an 'official' timeline, it's not like fan theories suddenly lost all merit, and it didn't stop Nintendo from referencing just about every single game in the series Breath of the Wild, no matter where they fell relative in the timeline. Seriously, look at the place names. It even references Link's Awakening, which happened entirely in a dream. Then they do things like Major's Mask, where there's suddenly a weird mirror world with all sorts of strange extra stuff, and it's just never mentioned again? Yeah.
Anyways, TL:DR; you don't need to make extra work for yourself if you don't want to. Do what seems fun, and let the fans sort it out if they care.