Which is why I am delighted to be introducing Sharon Bayliss as this week's Speculative Fiction Writer. Over to you Sharon.
How to Re-Write History
Manipulating historical events, either for an alternate history novel or to deceive the masses, takes a lot of research.
Personally, my experience in re-writing history comes from writing my freshly released alternate history fantasy, The Charge (not from being a ruthless overlord). In The Charge, the state of Texas never joins the United States and instead becomes an independent nation. I've complied a set a tips for how to create a believable alternate timeline.
1) Determine and research your pivotal moment
To alter history, you don't necessarily need to be an expert on every single historical event, but you do need to be an expert on at least one pivotal moment--a place in history where if things happened differently it would have taken the timeline off course. Everything that happens before the pivotal moment stays the same, but everything that happened after is on an alternate timeline.
You obviously don't want to steal anyone else's idea, but you can get a solid sense of pivotal moments and possible alternate paths by learning from others. That knowledge makes it easier to come up with your own idea.
3) Start re-writing that timeline!
After you know about your pivotal moment, you have to follow the rest of history from that point and decide what happens next. I suggest a good old-fashioned timeline like we created back in school. Of course, everything that happens after your pivotal moment is in question, but to keep your head from exploding, focus on how the most important events changed.
You'll alter real events, and you may end up creating new events that never happened at all. When you're creating new events, I suggest modeling real world events. No one can say, "that would never happen", if actually did or almost did.
4) Edit with a critical eye
I suggest that you do a final read through where you're specifically looking for factual inconsistencies. Look for any references that could possibly have been altered by your change in timeline. Places, events, brand names, political figures, basically any proper noun.
Put on your critical super-geek pants to assess your work...or another critical super-geek might get you! :)
When King of the Texas Empire kidnaps Warren's brother, Warren embarks into a still Wild West to save him. On his journey, he makes a discovery that changes his life forever—he and his brother are long-lost members of the Texas royal family and the King wants them both dead.
He gets help from an activist Texan named Lena, who's itching to take on the King and happens to be a beautiful firecracker Warren can't stay away from. Convincing her he's not one of the bad guys becomes harder when a mysterious energy stirs in his body, turning his brain into a hive of emotions and memories—not all his own.
A legacy of violence is not all he inherited from the brutal Kings of Texas. The myth that the royal family possesses supernatural powers may not be myth at all.
Gone are the days when choosing a major was a big deal. Now Warren must save his brother and choose whether or not to be King, follow a King, or die before he can retire his fake ID.
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An audio recording of Sharon reading from The Charge
What Side Are You On? Quiz
Sharon Bayliss is a native of Austin, Texas and works her day job in the field of social work. When she’s not writing, she enjoys living in her “happily-ever-after” with her husband and two young sons. She can be found eating Tex-Mex on patios, wearing flip-flops, and playing in the mud (which she calls gardening).
You can connect with Sharon at www.facebook.com/authorsharonbayliss and www.sharonbayliss.com, or on Twitter.
Thank you for sharing your tips on how to write alternate history, Sharon. It's not something I've tried myself but you've certainly inspired me to try. I'm looking forward to reading more of your work.
I'll be back on Monday with a special cover reveal from Simon Kewin. You won't want to miss it! Have a great week.