Alternate History

Sometimes, history sucks. Or it’s not interesting. Or it’s enormously interesting, but Writer Brain is like, “But what if it happened this way instead?”

According to Wikipedia, alternate history is basically speculative fiction, because the writer is speculating on a “what if?” idea and changing real, documented history into something else. Also, sometimes, time slip and time travel is involved.

The FrankenIdea has strong alternate history elements and while I’m barely into writing this thing–hello, unfinished Chapter One!–I’m working out how the alternate history parts work. It’s different from making up fictional historical people (hi, definitely doing that, too) or a fictional country (possibly) because in this instance, at least, I am keeping some people who are definitely dead alive, so I’ve been thinking about what their lives would have been like had they lived longer. What their being alive means for political situations or for real life historical people who, in actual history, grieved and mourned for these people.

Even so, it’s way easier to alter history in this way than it is to write time travel. Time travel gives me headaches eventually; time slippage, on the other hand, is more like passing briefly into the past or something, so it does not give me disbelief headaches. I’m not totally sure if I’ll keep the time slippage in this FrankenIdea, as there is so much else going on, but we’ll see.

I read a book years ago called The Secret Daughter of the Tsar by Jennifer Laam, which was alternate history–Nicholas II and Alexandra have a fifth daughter (Alexandra was rumored to have had a miscarriage around this time historically speaking) and the baby is given away because they don’t need more daughters, but they need a son.

I’ve also read a romance, To Marry a Prince by Sophie Page, where the British royal family is different because they are descended from a couple from the early 1800s, one of whom died in childbirth in real life.

There are alternate history novels out there about “What if the Confederacy had won the Civil War?” (which doesn’t bear thinking about it, imo) and “What if Hitler had invaded Britain?” I’m not going that huge in my FrankenIdea. Certain real historical things still happen. Some do not.

2 thoughts on “Alternate History

  1. \”What if\” can be a lot of fun. Making up names for towns and countries is also fun. So, you're thinking about some time slipping? I think my current WIP has some time slippage. Like the character is slipping a bit into the past, but she can't change anything, she's just observing or reliving it or something? Is that time slipping?


  2. The time slippage I've read is yeah, where the characters slips a bit into the past and relives it or observes it or has a sense of deja vu. I'm not sure if it's strictly necessary to this particular FrankenIdea, might be overloading the thing with too much.


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