|Why I Write Fanfic II: Alternate Realities
Alternate realities are one of the most common themes in fanfiction. What would the story have been like if this had happened? How would things have differed if something else didn't happen? Suppose you changed just one thing: would the story have turned out completely different or mostly the same?
That's why alternate reality (allity for short) is such fun. Instead of sticking to facts, you can go wild.
Robert Jordan, conveniently, has even provided us with a mechanism for creating allities; the Portal Stones and the Worlds That Might Be. An infinite number of universes that split depending on whether key events, maybe any events, go this way or that way. If you want your allity to meet up with the book reality you can have characters use Portal Stones to get from one to the other, otherwise you can just leave them separate.
The first, and so far only, allity I have written on is based on the premise....
The rest of this essay discusses my stories The Red Flame, The Dragon Banner and all four parts of The Paths Of If. If you have not yet read one or more of them, be warned that reading this will spoil the plot for you. If you would like to read them now, go here.
"Suppose Davian was the Dragon Reborn?" This may seem more likely if you hold with the theory suggested in my essay The Dragon Preborn, which is that several and possibly all of the so-called False Dragons in history, prior to Logain and Taim (Raolin Darksbane, Yurian Stonebow, Davian and Guaire Amalasan) were in fact Lews Therin Telamon reborn but that the Pattern was not yet ready to accept a Dragon. The key event, occurring at the end of The Dragon Banner, is simply that Davian draws Callandor.
Or that he doesn't. That's where the story splits.
When I first wrote The Red Flame, I had no intentions of making it an allity and, for that matter, no thoughts of writing a sequel. My aim was to present a Red Ajah character who was not the villain of the story and who, in fact, was someone that readers would like. My readers tell me I succeeded, which is good to hear. It was also an attempt to explore the consequences of trying to circumvent the Pattern, a theme which, in retrospect, is strongly related to the concept of allities. But at that time I didn't notice it.
The Red Flame remained among my short stories for a long time, before I eventually decided to continue the storyline. When I first conceived the idea for The Dragon Banner, I thought of it simply as a "Capture the False Dragon" story with the entire focus on Sharia. But when I started writing, I realised that the Davian in my imagination was developing well past the 'mad channeler, must be stopped' role I had originally put him in. He was becoming - well, a hero.
Unfortunately, if the story continued in Jordan's reality, he was going to be a tragic hero.
I kept writing, and at the end Davian surrendered after trying, and failing, to draw Callandor. As the man of honour I had portrayed him as, he had no other course of action available. I also posted that alternative ending. Once again, I didn't plan to write a sequel, but it wasn't long before I thought of it.
In Jordan's reality, there wasn't much more to tell, and what there was would make a very depressing story. But in my allity there was immense story potential, including the possibility of a happy ending. As well as telling the Dragon Reborn story a completely new way, I could develop the relationship between Davian and Sharia, unlikely couple that they are, that The Dragon Banner could only hint at.
In the end, I wrote them both. I concentrated on those scenes that showed their relationship and the eventual triumph of the Light, but finishing every part I wrote a reminder of what was happening in the 'real' world. In one ending, Shayol Ghul had become a paradise; in the other, Davian was dead. In my opinion The Paths Of If and its prequels are one of my finest stories, and it's that contrast that makes it so.
You may disagree. Feel free to send me your comments.
Other writers have created similarly interesting allities. One of the most notable allity stories is the creation of Selinthia Avenchesca, Weaving White and Silver. The premise is that Rand left Fal Dara in the beginning of The Great Hunt. At the beginning of this story, he returns to the Two Rivers in the company of his new bride, one Selene...
Selinthia also contributes to the multi-author Towers of Midnight, started by Barid Bel Medar (who recently renamed himself Ayende Rahien) which is a future allity; an alternative to the upcoming Winter's Heart. Whether this is true allity is somewhat vague; for one, it doesn't hinge on a single key event but follows on more or less logically from the books. For another, even if it is now, it wasn't when it started, as back then nothing about book 9 was known, even the title. The same is true for Barid's previous project, his version of The Path Of Daggers.
To the best of my knowledge, however, only one allity goes back farther in time than mine does. Of course, I may be proved wrong by someone sending me a story set in an alternate Trolloc Wars or Breaking, but the one exception I know of isn't a story at all. The Spine of the World roleplay has, as its main premise, the Dragon of the last Age being female. In consequence, saidar is tainted, Aes Sedai are all male, and so forth. The Lady Dragon Reborn, who is also the creator of the RP, is Camelia al'Sara; the (male) Amyrlin is Afram at'Anacho; the (female) M'Hael is Sharamie Angread, and is also me.
Do I plan to write more allity stories in the future?
Perhaps. While there will be no more Sharia and Davian stories, I have a vague idea for a story involving one of the other Dragons Preborn. It might also be very interesting to try and write the Hawkwing and Amalasan story with Amalasan as the real Dragon Reborn. And I have a character in mind who deserves - demands - a significant background to put her against and a Forsaken or two to baffle. (Yes, baffle and not battle is the intended word.)
But who knows?