How to Rewrite History: A Guide for Novelists and Dictators
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 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.
2) Read similar alternate histories
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! 🙂
I hope that novelists and dictators found that helpful! Now go upset your history teacher!
Guest Author Interview: Sharon Bayliss
CJB: What authors or books have been most influential in your writing? Why?
SB: I really fell in love with the dystopian genre in high school, especially Brave New World, 1984, and The Handmaid’s Tale. Ever since, I’ve loved alternate worlds and dystopian futures.
CJB: Tell us a little about your newest/upcoming book.
SB: The Charge is an alternate history fantasy set in a world where Texas never joined the United States and instead is ruled by a supernatural royal family.
CJB: How are you going to celebrate the release? Do you have any traditions?
SB: The Charge released in March, and as it was my first novel, I did a lot to celebrate. One thing I did was enjoy a blue margarita and some Alamo beer.
CJB: What future projects are you looking forward to?
SB: Right now I’m working on the sequel to The Charge.
CJB: Where can we find you online?
About Sharon Bayliss
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.
Sharon’s newest release is The Charge, a unique, fast-paced new adult alternate history set in a world where Texas never joined the United States and instead is ruled by a superhuman royal family.
You can find The Charge on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, & Kobo. And if you’re in central Texas, you can also find it at The Book Spot in Round Rock and Book People in Austin. Locals can also check out The Charge Scavenger Hunt for a chance to win prizes!
Add The Charge to your Goodreads TBR list this week and you may win a copy! During the week of 7/29 I’ll be gifting up to 30 Amazon Kindle copies of The Charge to people who add The Charge to their Goodreads TBR list during the Blogger Book Fair.
“A solid cast of well-developed characters, including a “super-tall” royal Texan family, stars in this thrill ride of a novel teetering between sci-fi adventure and alternate historical epic.” ~Publishers Weekly Review (won in the 2012 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award Competition)