When it comes to Fan Fiction, there are several paths you can take, either follow canon to the letter, combine canon law with your own ideas, or run off into the wilderness of mad creativity. All work, despite what certain purists might like to claim, is enjoyable to read and each has its challenges, but AU’s mixing canon and your own ideas can be the hardest to balance.One of the oddest things about communities like the BattleTech community, is that there are certain individuals who have a real inability to think outside the box, clinging to what is written in canon books like it is, well, canon law, each prepared and more than willing to burn heretics at the stake. As BT is fiction and none of it real, it is a weird little state of mind, but one that Fan fiction writers, who choose to work in alternate universes, have to deal with.
The nice thing about BT is that there are many opportunities for What If, or counter-factual scenarios, considering that any facts are just pure fantasy to begin with. However, when we delve into this little realm, we assume what is written, is in universe fact, so to make our fan fiction “believable”, we need to adhere to certain “facts”.
That one issue can be the rise or fall of an alternate universe/timeline setting, is that the writer needs to be able to provide believable divergences from the canon material, whilst trying to differentiate their own AU from the canon BT universe.
One simple way of doing this is killing off characters, especially important ones. Macabre, yes, but one of the most effective tools for those of us out to re-write history. For the Kapteyn Universe, set in 3022 to start with, we knocked Takashi Kurita off in a DropShip accident and Michael Hasek-Davion with some god awful virus, then ousted, but did not kill, Primus Tiepolo. The removal of these three, believable or not, then allowed for changes in the story based on new personalities and dynamics. Candace Liao’s own actions later in the piece, simply added to this and along with Thomas Marik’s early return to Atreus, allowed for a more dynamic Kapteyn Alliance.
Were these events believable – they seem to have been, as the readership of the story continues to rise and we have never stepped into complete fantasy land. The one large pill that readers had to swallow was WarShips, addressed in an earlier post, but as an alternate universe we had the recovery of the Inner Sphere begin in 3000, not 3025, meaning that by the time our story starts, the Inner Sphere is at a place, industrially and technologically, that it did not reach in canon until 3047.
So with some judicious executions of certain limiting canon characters, the reworking of the canon timeline’s historical recovery and the addition of several new and dynamic characters, or new positions for known characters, and we suddenly had a universe very different from canon, but equally plausible.
That I think is the secret, plausibility, as when posting a fan fiction piece, where deviation from canon is the main tune, the initial deviation must be the most plausible, after that you can get more extreme with your changes as you go. Trying to marry Romana Liao to Thomas Marik in 3025 would be a tough one to justify, but having Michael Hasek-Davion win a shadow war in 3022 is not quite so extreme.
I am now working on a story where all 20 Clans survive.
“Oh sweet merciful gods, kill it with fire you say?”
Well, I think once released, you may enjoy this little story. The defining moment, the little initial deviation, which is plausible, is the survival of Andery Kerensky. He is still ambushed on Eden, but only badly injured and placed in a medically induced coma. Yes, I know, very days of our lives, but this is space opera after all. His recovery after a year, just at the beginning of the events leading up to the Wolverine saga, is where he starts to push canon down a new path. From there I can steepen the divergence as I go, hopefully maintaining some semblance of plausibility.
The final method for making sure you get it right, as I have already done with my alternate Clan setting, is this: get your story read by another good writer with a solid knowledge of the BT universe. They will provide feedback for plugging the holes, or at least the more obvious ones, before you release your story in the shark tank. Best its not bleeding too much by then, or the canon lawyers will start a feeding frenzy.