History SoYouWantTo / WriteAnAlternateHistory

10th Nov '15 5:58:06 PM nombretomado
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Conversely, InSpiteOfANail is also quite important; it's often easier for writers and readers to imagine how differently the world might have gone if they're able to see something that's familiar to them slightly altered, despite how unlikely it would be that this element would even exist in the Alternate History. It also enables commentary, satire and parody on the actual world, by framing notable figures, events and locations in different light. For example, ''[[Creator/HarryTurtledove The Two Georges]]'' features RichardNixon as [[RichardNixonTheUsedCarSalesman a used car salesman]] in a world where America never gained independence from Great Britain; despite it being very unlikely that Nixon would even have been born in this alternate world, his presence allows the reader to see how different things are and to gain both an insight into and commentary on Nixon himself.

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Conversely, InSpiteOfANail is also quite important; it's often easier for writers and readers to imagine how differently the world might have gone if they're able to see something that's familiar to them slightly altered, despite how unlikely it would be that this element would even exist in the Alternate History. It also enables commentary, satire and parody on the actual world, by framing notable figures, events and locations in different light. For example, ''[[Creator/HarryTurtledove The Two Georges]]'' features RichardNixon UsefulNotes/RichardNixon as [[RichardNixonTheUsedCarSalesman a used car salesman]] in a world where America never gained independence from Great Britain; despite it being very unlikely that Nixon would even have been born in this alternate world, his presence allows the reader to see how different things are and to gain both an insight into and commentary on Nixon himself.



InSpiteOfANail aside, it can be quite effective having historical figures appear in your story in drastically different contexts to demonstrate how the world is different; the aforementioned President Joe [=McCarthy=] for example, or used-car-salesman RichardNixon. Again, make sure that they're accurate and appropriate for the historical setting, and keep in mind what's credible; Roman Emperor [[RichardNixon Richardus Nixonus]] is possibly stretching things a bit too far.

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InSpiteOfANail aside, it can be quite effective having historical figures appear in your story in drastically different contexts to demonstrate how the world is different; the aforementioned President Joe [=McCarthy=] for example, or used-car-salesman RichardNixon. UsefulNotes/RichardNixon. Again, make sure that they're accurate and appropriate for the historical setting, and keep in mind what's credible; Roman Emperor [[RichardNixon [[UsefulNotes/RichardNixon Richardus Nixonus]] is possibly stretching things a bit too far.
8th Oct '15 7:54:00 PM jormis29
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** To see an example of this in action, try ''ExMachina'', in which a superhero partially averts 9/11. (Only one of the Twin Towers is destroyed.)

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** To see an example of this in action, try ''ExMachina'', ''ComicBook/ExMachina'', in which a superhero partially averts 9/11. (Only one of the Twin Towers is destroyed.)
17th May '15 11:16:34 AM nombretomado
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Conversely, InSpiteOfANail is also quite important; it's often easier for writers and readers to imagine how differently the world might have gone if they're able to see something that's familiar to them slightly altered, despite how unlikely it would be that this element would even exist in the Alternate History. It also enables commentary, satire and parody on the actual world, by framing notable figures, events and locations in different light. For example, ''[[HarryTurtledove The Two Georges]]'' features RichardNixon as [[RichardNixonTheUsedCarSalesman a used car salesman]] in a world where America never gained independence from Great Britain; despite it being very unlikely that Nixon would even have been born in this alternate world, his presence allows the reader to see how different things are and to gain both an insight into and commentary on Nixon himself.

to:

Conversely, InSpiteOfANail is also quite important; it's often easier for writers and readers to imagine how differently the world might have gone if they're able to see something that's familiar to them slightly altered, despite how unlikely it would be that this element would even exist in the Alternate History. It also enables commentary, satire and parody on the actual world, by framing notable figures, events and locations in different light. For example, ''[[HarryTurtledove ''[[Creator/HarryTurtledove The Two Georges]]'' features RichardNixon as [[RichardNixonTheUsedCarSalesman a used car salesman]] in a world where America never gained independence from Great Britain; despite it being very unlikely that Nixon would even have been born in this alternate world, his presence allows the reader to see how different things are and to gain both an insight into and commentary on Nixon himself.



* ''Literature/TheGunsOfTheSouth'', HarryTurtledove; the epitome of the "What if the South won UsefulNotes/TheAmericanCivilWar?" stories. Actually, just about anything by Harry Turtledove, from ''Ruled Britannia'' to the recent ''The Man with the Iron Heart''. Ward Moore's ''Literature/BringTheJubilee'' is perhaps the most prominent "classical" example of this theme.

to:

* ''Literature/TheGunsOfTheSouth'', HarryTurtledove; Creator/HarryTurtledove; the epitome of the "What if the South won UsefulNotes/TheAmericanCivilWar?" stories. Actually, just about anything by Harry Turtledove, from ''Ruled Britannia'' to the recent ''The Man with the Iron Heart''. Ward Moore's ''Literature/BringTheJubilee'' is perhaps the most prominent "classical" example of this theme.
30th Apr '15 1:18:27 PM nombretomado
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* ''TheGunsOfTheSouth'', HarryTurtledove; the epitome of the "What if the South won UsefulNotes/TheAmericanCivilWar?" stories. Actually, just about anything by Harry Turtledove, from ''Ruled Britannia'' to the recent ''The Man with the Iron Heart''. Ward Moore's ''Literature/BringTheJubilee'' is perhaps the most prominent "classical" example of this theme.

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* ''TheGunsOfTheSouth'', ''Literature/TheGunsOfTheSouth'', HarryTurtledove; the epitome of the "What if the South won UsefulNotes/TheAmericanCivilWar?" stories. Actually, just about anything by Harry Turtledove, from ''Ruled Britannia'' to the recent ''The Man with the Iron Heart''. Ward Moore's ''Literature/BringTheJubilee'' is perhaps the most prominent "classical" example of this theme.
15th Aug '14 10:13:30 AM TheOneWhoTropes
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What if [[AdolfHitler Hitler]] [[TheBadGuyWins won]] [[UsefulNotes/WorldWarII the war]]? What if [[TheBadGuyWins the South triumphed]] at [[UsefulNotes/TheAmericanCivilWar Gettysburg]]? What if things [[CubanMissileCrisis went a bit wrong in October 1962]]? What if [[Comicbook/{{Watchmen}} superheroes were real, and the Cold War got worse]]? What if I [[Series/DoctorWho turned left instead of right at the traffic lights]]?

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What if [[AdolfHitler [[UsefulNotes/AdolfHitler Hitler]] [[TheBadGuyWins won]] [[UsefulNotes/WorldWarII the war]]? What if [[TheBadGuyWins the South triumphed]] at [[UsefulNotes/TheAmericanCivilWar Gettysburg]]? What if things [[CubanMissileCrisis went a bit wrong in October 1962]]? What if [[Comicbook/{{Watchmen}} superheroes were real, and the Cold War got worse]]? What if I [[Series/DoctorWho turned left instead of right at the traffic lights]]?
23rd Jan '14 3:46:41 PM TheOneWhoTropes
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23rd Jan '14 3:46:25 PM TheOneWhoTropes
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What if [[AdolfHitler Hitler]] [[TheBadGuyWins won]] [[UsefulNotes/WorldWarII the war]]? What if [[TheBadGuyWins the South triumphed]] at [[UsefulNotes/AmericanCivilWar Gettysburg]]? What if things [[CubanMissileCrisis went a bit wrong in October 1962]]? What if [[Comicbook/{{Watchmen}} superheroes were real, and the Cold War got worse]]? What if I [[Series/DoctorWho turned left instead of right at the traffic lights]]?

to:

What if [[AdolfHitler Hitler]] [[TheBadGuyWins won]] [[UsefulNotes/WorldWarII the war]]? What if [[TheBadGuyWins the South triumphed]] at [[UsefulNotes/AmericanCivilWar [[UsefulNotes/TheAmericanCivilWar Gettysburg]]? What if things [[CubanMissileCrisis went a bit wrong in October 1962]]? What if [[Comicbook/{{Watchmen}} superheroes were real, and the Cold War got worse]]? What if I [[Series/DoctorWho turned left instead of right at the traffic lights]]?



* ''TheGunsOfTheSouth'', HarryTurtledove; the epitome of the "What if the South won the UsefulNotes/AmericanCivilWar?" stories. Actually, just about anything by Harry Turtledove, from ''Ruled Britannia'' to the recent ''The Man with the Iron Heart''. Ward Moore's ''Literature/BringTheJubilee'' is perhaps the most prominent "classical" example of this theme.

to:

* ''TheGunsOfTheSouth'', HarryTurtledove; the epitome of the "What if the South won the UsefulNotes/AmericanCivilWar?" UsefulNotes/TheAmericanCivilWar?" stories. Actually, just about anything by Harry Turtledove, from ''Ruled Britannia'' to the recent ''The Man with the Iron Heart''. Ward Moore's ''Literature/BringTheJubilee'' is perhaps the most prominent "classical" example of this theme.
19th Jan '14 10:30:36 PM nombretomado
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* ''Comicbook/{{Watchmen}}'', by AlanMoore (and its [[{{Film/Watchmen}} film adaptation)]] begins with the idea of unpowered superheroes turning up in the early 1940s, but when a real-life superbeing emerges in the late 1950s, his status as a weapon of the US Government manages to extend the UsefulNotes/ColdWar far beyond- and far more fiercely- its real-life limits. Combine this with Nixon using superheroes to win UsefulNotes/TheVietnamWar and assassinate the reporters who broke the Watergate scandal and thereby using his popularity to get ''five'' terms in office... An excellent study in Alternate History, as well as in {{Deconstruction}} of the SuperHero genre in general.

to:

* ''Comicbook/{{Watchmen}}'', by AlanMoore Creator/AlanMoore (and its [[{{Film/Watchmen}} film adaptation)]] begins with the idea of unpowered superheroes turning up in the early 1940s, but when a real-life superbeing emerges in the late 1950s, his status as a weapon of the US Government manages to extend the UsefulNotes/ColdWar far beyond- and far more fiercely- its real-life limits. Combine this with Nixon using superheroes to win UsefulNotes/TheVietnamWar and assassinate the reporters who broke the Watergate scandal and thereby using his popularity to get ''five'' terms in office... An excellent study in Alternate History, as well as in {{Deconstruction}} of the SuperHero genre in general.
11th Jan '14 3:30:47 PM LongLiveHumour
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What if [[AdolfHitler Hitler]] [[TheBadGuyWins won]] [[UsefulNotes/WorldWarII the war]]? What if [[TheBadGuyWins the South triumphed]] at [[AmericanCivilWar Gettysburg]]? What if things [[CubanMissileCrisis went a bit wrong in October 1962]]? What if [[Comicbook/{{Watchmen}} superheroes were real, and the Cold War got worse]]? What if I [[Series/DoctorWho turned left instead of right at the traffic lights]]?

to:

What if [[AdolfHitler Hitler]] [[TheBadGuyWins won]] [[UsefulNotes/WorldWarII the war]]? What if [[TheBadGuyWins the South triumphed]] at [[AmericanCivilWar [[UsefulNotes/AmericanCivilWar Gettysburg]]? What if things [[CubanMissileCrisis went a bit wrong in October 1962]]? What if [[Comicbook/{{Watchmen}} superheroes were real, and the Cold War got worse]]? What if I [[Series/DoctorWho turned left instead of right at the traffic lights]]?



Related to the "when" of the point of divergence is the "how." When setting out to write an Alternate History work, one must choose where to put the work on the SlidingScaleOfAlternateHistoryPlausibility. Is the point of divergence going to be a mundane, very believable one (for example, the bomb-bay doors on the ''Enola Gay'' locked up, causing one of the nukes to not be delivered during WorldWarTwo, which allows the Japanese leadership to justify fighting and cause a much worse ending to the war) or a more fantastic, less realistic one (known in the usual parlance as an "AlienSpaceBats;" for example, an alien race shoots down the ''Enola Gay'' with a space laser, preventing the delivery of the bomb and prolonging the war)? It doesn't matter what kind of point of divergence one chooses, but it must be remembered that Alternate History should be about following that point of divergence ''realistically''. The point of divergence can make no sense, but if the repercussions that follow are in line with what such an event would cause in relation to reality, the story is probably on the right track.

to:

Related to the "when" of the point of divergence is the "how." When setting out to write an Alternate History work, one must choose where to put the work on the SlidingScaleOfAlternateHistoryPlausibility. Is the point of divergence going to be a mundane, very believable one (for example, the bomb-bay doors on the ''Enola Gay'' locked up, causing one of the nukes to not be delivered during WorldWarTwo, UsefulNotes/WorldWarTwo, which allows the Japanese leadership to justify fighting and cause a much worse ending to the war) or a more fantastic, less realistic one (known in the usual parlance as an "AlienSpaceBats;" for example, an alien race shoots down the ''Enola Gay'' with a space laser, preventing the delivery of the bomb and prolonging the war)? It doesn't matter what kind of point of divergence one chooses, but it must be remembered that Alternate History should be about following that point of divergence ''realistically''. The point of divergence can make no sense, but if the repercussions that follow are in line with what such an event would cause in relation to reality, the story is probably on the right track.



It's also common for writers to have characters speculate on how things might have gone differently in the Alternate History, with their musings almost always resulting in how things actually did progress in our history. Try to avoid this, or play with it; not only is it something of a cliche, but it's also unlikely that they'd figure out ''exactly'' how things went in our world. As an example of how to do it ''right'', consider Creator/PhilipKDick's ''Literature/TheManInTheHighCastle'', which is set in a history where the Nazis and Imperial Japan won WorldWarTwo, centres around a novel that speculates what might have happened if the Allies had won - and in that novel, the progress of WorldWarTwo is ''still'' completely different from how it was really won in our history.

to:

It's also common for writers to have characters speculate on how things might have gone differently in the Alternate History, with their musings almost always resulting in how things actually did progress in our history. Try to avoid this, or play with it; not only is it something of a cliche, but it's also unlikely that they'd figure out ''exactly'' how things went in our world. As an example of how to do it ''right'', consider Creator/PhilipKDick's ''Literature/TheManInTheHighCastle'', which is set in a history where the Nazis and Imperial Japan won WorldWarTwo, UsefulNotes/WorldWarTwo, centres around a novel that speculates what might have happened if the Allies had won - and in that novel, the progress of WorldWarTwo UsefulNotes/WorldWarTwo is ''still'' completely different from how it was really won in our history.



One further note; in roughly 90% of Alternate Histories, Hitler Wins. The SecondWorldWar is a big breeding ground for Alternate Histories, given the fascinatingly brutal and evil nature of the Nazi / Imperial Japanese regimes and how close they actually did come to winning. What this means, however, is that almost every possible idea that can be done around this ''has'' been done. If you are going to use WorldWarTwo as a starting point, try and find something as fresh or new as possible to do with it. Or perhaps choose another, less explored historical period as a starting point; [[WorldWarOne The]] ''[[WorldWarOne First]]'' [[WorldWarOne World War]], for example, is hardly used at all. The American Revolutionary War and the American Civil War also face these concerns, to less extents (and it's interesting to note how so many of them revolve around America's influence on the world, incidentally). Likewise, Alternate Histories where [[LadyLand women are in charge]]? Been done many many ''many'' times. Try and find something new to say.

to:

One further note; in roughly 90% of Alternate Histories, Hitler Wins. The SecondWorldWar UsefulNotes/SecondWorldWar is a big breeding ground for Alternate Histories, given the fascinatingly brutal and evil nature of the Nazi / Imperial Japanese regimes and how close they actually did come to winning. What this means, however, is that almost every possible idea that can be done around this ''has'' been done. If you are going to use WorldWarTwo as a starting point, try and find something as fresh or new as possible to do with it. Or perhaps choose another, less explored historical period as a starting point; [[WorldWarOne The]] The ''[[WorldWarOne First]]'' [[WorldWarOne World War]], War, for example, is hardly used at all. The American Revolutionary War and the American Civil War also face these concerns, to less extents (and it's interesting to note how so many of them revolve around America's influence on the world, incidentally). Likewise, Alternate Histories where [[LadyLand women are in charge]]? Been done many many ''many'' times. Try and find something new to say.



Also, don't just focus on what the 'obvious' alternate outcome might have been; just because Hitler Wins, that doesn't mean that the Thousand Year Reich is just around the corner; supposing he wins the SecondWorldWar, but Nazi Germany is later crushed in a Nuclear War with the United States? History is always moving, and things don't always happen the way we think they will.

to:

Also, don't just focus on what the 'obvious' alternate outcome might have been; just because Hitler Wins, that doesn't mean that the Thousand Year Reich is just around the corner; supposing he wins the SecondWorldWar, UsefulNotes/SecondWorldWar, but Nazi Germany is later crushed in a Nuclear War with the United States? History is always moving, and things don't always happen the way we think they will.



Of particular note here, however, is Harry Turtledove, the 'Master of Alternate History', who writes in this genre almost exclusively. Due to his prolific nature, however, Turtledove straddles both the greats ''and'' the epic fails; at his best he's a fine example of what to do well, at his worst, he's a sobering reminder of what can go wrong. Take note of his multi-volume series, however - ''Worldwar'', a sci-fi epic in which aliens invade during WorldWarTwo and really muck things up, or ''Timeline-191'', a historical series focusing on the Confederacy winning the American Civil War, going through an alternate First World War ''and'' alternate Second World War as well; whilst at their best they're compelling reading, he's quite susceptible to AsYouKnow Syndrome as a result of the sheer complexity and length of such works.

to:

Of particular note here, however, is Harry Turtledove, the 'Master of Alternate History', who writes in this genre almost exclusively. Due to his prolific nature, however, Turtledove straddles both the greats ''and'' the epic fails; at his best he's a fine example of what to do well, at his worst, he's a sobering reminder of what can go wrong. Take note of his multi-volume series, however - ''Worldwar'', a sci-fi epic in which aliens invade during WorldWarTwo UsefulNotes/WorldWarTwo and really muck things up, or ''Timeline-191'', a historical series focusing on the Confederacy winning the American Civil War, going through an alternate First World War ''and'' alternate Second World War as well; whilst at their best they're compelling reading, he's quite susceptible to AsYouKnow Syndrome as a result of the sheer complexity and length of such works.



* ''Literature/{{Fatherland}}'', Robert Harris; Murder Mystery set in 1963 Berlin where the Nazis won the SecondWorldWar, with the investigation into the murder of an influential ex-diplomat taking place during the build up to Hitler's birthday celebrations and the signing of a detente treaty with the United States. There was [[Film/{{Fatherland}} a movie made based on it]]; however, it is said to have been a failure.
* ''TheGunsOfTheSouth'', HarryTurtledove; the epitome of the "What if the South won the AmericanCivilWar?" stories. Actually, just about anything by Harry Turtledove, from ''Ruled Britannia'' to the recent ''The Man with the Iron Heart''. Ward Moore's ''Literature/BringTheJubilee'' is perhaps the most prominent "classical" example of this theme.
* ''Comicbook/{{Watchmen}}'', by AlanMoore (and its [[{{Film/Watchmen}} film adaptation)]] begins with the idea of unpowered superheroes turning up in the early 1940s, but when a real-life superbeing emerges in the late 1950s, his status as a weapon of the US Government manages to extend the ColdWar far beyond- and far more fiercely- its real-life limits. Combine this with Nixon using superheroes to win TheVietnamWar and assassinate the reporters who broke the Watergate scandal and thereby using his popularity to get ''five'' terms in office... An excellent study in Alternate History, as well as in {{Deconstruction}} of the SuperHero genre in general.

to:

* ''Literature/{{Fatherland}}'', Robert Harris; Murder Mystery set in 1963 Berlin where the Nazis won the SecondWorldWar, UsefulNotes/SecondWorldWar, with the investigation into the murder of an influential ex-diplomat taking place during the build up to Hitler's birthday celebrations and the signing of a detente treaty with the United States. There was [[Film/{{Fatherland}} a movie made based on it]]; however, it is said to have been a failure.
* ''TheGunsOfTheSouth'', HarryTurtledove; the epitome of the "What if the South won the AmericanCivilWar?" UsefulNotes/AmericanCivilWar?" stories. Actually, just about anything by Harry Turtledove, from ''Ruled Britannia'' to the recent ''The Man with the Iron Heart''. Ward Moore's ''Literature/BringTheJubilee'' is perhaps the most prominent "classical" example of this theme.
* ''Comicbook/{{Watchmen}}'', by AlanMoore (and its [[{{Film/Watchmen}} film adaptation)]] begins with the idea of unpowered superheroes turning up in the early 1940s, but when a real-life superbeing emerges in the late 1950s, his status as a weapon of the US Government manages to extend the ColdWar UsefulNotes/ColdWar far beyond- and far more fiercely- its real-life limits. Combine this with Nixon using superheroes to win TheVietnamWar UsefulNotes/TheVietnamWar and assassinate the reporters who broke the Watergate scandal and thereby using his popularity to get ''five'' terms in office... An excellent study in Alternate History, as well as in {{Deconstruction}} of the SuperHero genre in general.
26th Dec '13 1:22:24 PM James5928
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