Hi Jim,

I hope you don’t mind, but I saw your posts about asking a question and thought I’d shoot you an email. I saw from your other posts that you think using an alternate universe is poor story telling. I wanted to write a sequel to one of my books, but essentially it would be going back and exploring what would have happened had my character chosen a different path and how the outcome would have changed. Since you really seem to be against alternate universes, can you tell me how you would do it to avoid the problems you’ve talked about?

Thanks,
Malik.



Hi there Malik,

I don’t mind at all, thank you for the email! Just to clarify, I don’t hate alternate universes or people writing about them. Heck, my first novel WAS an alternate universe story being that it dealt with what the modern world would look like if elves and dwarves actually existed. My issue comes up when story tellers use it as a crutch to do… pretty much whatever they wanted without retconing anything. They change characters’ identity for no rhyme or reason and then use an alternate universe as a lazy excuse not to explain the change.

However, what you’re doing sounds interesting. I’ve often thought about it myself; {SPOILER ALERT} What would have happened had Toby not investigated when he thought he’d heard someone cry out in the darkness. What if Corban didn’t go after Mary in Chicago. What if Father Antonelli didn’t turn Adalyn over to the church… and most importantly, the various outcomes of Xaphan’s exile.
Any one of those plot threads would work very well and I’ve often thought about how I’d peruse something like that.
There are actually several theories about something like this. One that seems to stand out is that even all time streams end up in the same, if not similar placed outcomes, even if drastic changes are made. It won’t end up exactly the same, but it will be pretty close. I’ve seen several stories emulate this and it is one idea that I actually do like.
I would honestly say that if you’re going to take this route for a sequel, don’t be bound by the original story too much. I would say that the best stories in alternate universes are when the very nature of the story changes, the character relationships are different as a result, some characters survive that didn’t before, but in the end the story manages to end on a positive; the bad guy is still defeated, though perhaps by a different character or different means, and perhaps the story takes on a darker or more gritty end.

Honestly, I would recommend picking up a copy of the Star Wars Infinities, especially Return of the Jedi:
907297-star_wars__infinities___return_of_the_jedi_v1__4__of_4___2004_3____page_1I say this because they are a perfect example of what I’m talking about. They are the stories of what happens when a single slight changes that most would consider insignificant happens, and the result throws the entire story into unbalance. The resulting stories are a lot grittier than the originals they’re based on, and take a lot of unexpected turns. I won’t give away what happens in the end, but it’s not what anyone would expect.

Anyway, in summation, I don’t think you’re doing anything wrong and you’re definitely not abusing the alternate universe plot device. If you need any help or would like another eye to take a look at what you’re doing, please let me know.



Readers,

Do you have a question about writing, publishing, my stories, etc? Please feel free to post a comment or email me.
jimthewritingwizard@gmail.com
I’ll use those comments to select my next blog post.

I have been writing for several years, have 4 published works, experience with publishing and independent work, so I can hopefully be of assistance.
Please note, I only do one of these a day and will do my best to respond to everyone, but it may take some time.

You can also add me on Twitter!

Also, feel free to check out my works of Fantasy and Historical Fiction, Available on Amazon and where ever books are sold. See the link below:

http://www.amazon.com/James-Harrington/e/B00P7FBXTU

Thanks friends!
Catch you on the flip side!

-Jim

1 Comment on “Alternate Universe?

  1. What annoys me is when they alternate realities or the magic reset button to basically kill everybody without actually killing everybody. I can see one or two dying in these alternate events but taking the chance to shock death the entire cast is wasted potential for what these characters will be like in another world. Also the “mirror universe” is becoming a cliché but can still be a good story if you’re just having fun with the idea instead of trying to take it seriously. Transformers “shattered glass” idea from the convention comics was a fun idea.

    Like

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