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How Much AU in Alternative Universe is too much?

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction and Writing Resource' started by DarthBreezy, Sep 19, 2002.

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  1. DarthBreezy

    DarthBreezy Force Ghost star 6

    Registered:
    Jun 4, 2002
    Taking this out of the Fan Fic Pet Peeve thread:
    Who's right? who's to dictate what's "in Character"? ? We'll take Anakin Skywalker as a prime example... Some people (freely admit to being one of them) see him as a "tragic hero" type... following that well paved road of good intentions... (Ok, so I've writen him darker as welll but over all). Some people write Anakin as a spoiled tempramental brat.. I've seen fics that porteay him as an obsessive wife beater a few times (It only takes one sentance of that to make me stop reading.. even if it's just implied). One of the best "alternate Anakin's" I've read is the Anakin Skywalker Diaries... he's a scream


    And to qoute CYNICAL 21

    Examples: Well, let's see. How about Qui-Gon Jinn as a porn star, or a bloodthirsty pirate, or a sensitive, Michelangelo-ish sculptor? Anakin as a wise-cracking, super-hip rock-star style Lothario whose entire purpose in life seems to be to crack wise. Or let's go a step further. Is there ANYBODY, in the history of films OR literature, who has ever been more twisted and contorted into alternate egos than Obi-Wan Kenobi? Let's face it, he's been subjected to lovemaking (or lust or - whatever you want to call all the really bizarre forms of physical interaction) by every imaginable kind of lifeform - male, female or whatever other gender might apply, human or otherwise; he's been enslaved, prostituted, pregnant, hunted as prey, perverted, turned to darkness, made to suffer untold indignities, masochistic, voyeuristic, and altruistic - and subjected to every conceivable means of torture that the human and inhuman mind can devise. Pausing for deep breath - but you get the idea. (And, yes, I know all of these things didn't happen on THIS site - but some of them do, along with other things equally bizarre.)

    At what point does it become no longer SW - even that vast, boundless, unspecified gray area known as AU? And before anyone can cry foul, or get defensive, this is NOT meant to be a criticism of AUs; heck, I've been known to drift in that direction - or proceed at right angles to the established GL universe - myself.



    Let's see what comes up? Please be nice, I think this could get rather heated as many people have strong opinions on this matter...
    (Freely admit to being a lifetime member of the "I hate Obi-dallas" club!)
     
  2. Sara_Kenobi

    Sara_Kenobi Jedi Grand Master star 7

    Registered:
    Sep 21, 2000
    That's just it. I would say pairing any characters romantically that aren't normally together usually is too much for people.

    Alot of people don't like Obidalla stories because they love the Ani/Ami thing to where they're not open to any other ideas. I myself like writing Anakin, but I've always found him to be childlike in alot of ways. That's why I enjoy reading Obidallas or other pairings.

    The same can be said for Original characters being paired with Jaina instead of Jag or Kyp.

    Alot of people are just set on certain things.

    It just depends on one's personal tastes I guess. :)
     
  3. JediShampoo

    JediShampoo Jedi Master star 1

    Registered:
    May 5, 2000
    Correct, it's just personal taste. All fanfiction is AU in a way, because you are creating situations that you did not either view directly in the movies or read in a book.

    Personally, I prefer the least amount of AU possible in stories that I write or read. I guess it's just the way I read-- I lose my suspension of disbelief at the smallest thing. I get hung up on a character being in the wrong place at the wrong time for canon, or characters behaving in ways that are not consistent with what I've seen in the movies and EU. (Of course, there is the argument that much of the EU is AU in that way, because many pro authors don't bother to know the characters before they write them.)

    I'd like to see more "canon" stories-- anyone can make up an AU because they don't like something in the GFFA or don't feel that they can deal with it correctly. I think the real challenge (for me) is to do an original fanfiction story, with well-known characters, and work it hard to make it fit with what we already know.

    Of course, now I just sound like a Type A personality, which I am definitely not. And that is not saying AU writers are bad. Many people love that sort of thing, and rightly so for their own tastes. They like to see their beloved characters in new and exciting situations that would not ever happen in the GFFA.

    And yet others are even more of the non-AU bent than I am. I've written sexual situations for the Jedi. But as my friend Arco told me once, any story where Obi-Wan gets it on with ANYBODY is automatically an AU to him, because he just doesn't see Obi-Wan that way.

    Rambling...I guess I just have problems reading stories that are too "out there" or that muck with GFFA history-- i.e., "Qui-Gon is still alive at the time of AOTC" or "the twins are really Obi-Wan's--" aaaahh!
     
  4. Daughter_of_Yubyub

    Daughter_of_Yubyub Jedi Grand Master star 6

    Registered:
    Jul 8, 2002
    I don't mind AU's that deal with the ramification's of a specific change to the history. What annoys me is when it seems like the author has just randomly messed up the timeline.
     
  5. Darth_Silenous

    Darth_Silenous Jedi Padawan star 4

    Registered:
    Mar 21, 2002
    Personally, I love AU best - as long as it remains within certain, fairly obvious bounds (I think CYN showed quite eloquently what happens when those bounds are crossed). Small - or large, it doesn't matter - changes in history that allow for introspective, intelligent use of characters or the GFFA can make absolute gems of a story. I think that what turns most people off is unrealistic use of a character - for me, it's Obidala or anything involving an exceptionally dark, unreedemable and murderous Anakin, for others, something else - implementation of new characters that carry little weight into a plot, or simply silly plot lines. SW does carry a certain seriousness - though there is always room for humor - so it's nice to see that respected.
     
  6. JediGaladriel

    JediGaladriel Manager Emeritus star 5 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Registered:
    Sep 3, 1999
    Alot of people don't like Obidalla stories because they love the Ani/Ami thing to where they're not open to any other ideas.

    It's not a question of not being "open to other ideas." It's a question of the characters behaving in ways that the characters woudln't behave, no matter how you change the scenario.

    I don't consider something an AU unless it directly contradicts the course of events in the movies, and does so deliberately (in other words, a story that was written before AotC which had the characteres meeting up in a different way isn't an AU, it's a speculation). An AU would be something that says, "What if Obi-Wan had been assigned to protect Padme while Anakin went searching for the bounty hunter?" then goes about exploring that possibility. The charm of an AU is specifically in keeping the characters in character and seeing how those characters would behave in different scenarios... so they're actually stricter on the character issue than non-AUs are. I wrote an [link=http://fanfic.theforce.net/articles.asp?action=view&ID=24]article[/link] about it for the archive, if anyone's interested...
     
  7. CYNICAL21

    CYNICAL21 Jedi Padawan star 4

    Registered:
    Jul 8, 2001
    First off, thanks, Breezy, for doing what I should have done and putting this on a thread of its own. Having never known a timid moment in my (loud abd lusty?) life, I'll just plow right in here, knowing full well that, somewhere in the next few paragraphs, I'm going to offend somebody. I don't mean to - I swear it - but somehow, in this particular venue, it seems I always do.

    Obviously, a huge amount of the fiction on these boards IS AU - even most of it, I'd say, because we all, regardless of good intentions, put our own personal little tweaks on each character. JediShampoo'sfriend can't imagine Obi in a romantic situation with anybody; I can't imagine anybody remotely resembling either Ewan OR Sir Alec (and that doesn't only mean physical resemblance) going through life without breaking a few hearts along the way - though only with great warmth and compassion, of course.

    But, for me, the biggest key of all is that I never quite know where I'm going with a story - until I get there. Am I unique in that - do YOU, when you begin an AU story, KNOW that it's going to be AU? Because, if you know in advance, maybe your first step is a conscious decision to either preserve or discard that original character's established identity. Unfortunately, that wouldn't work for me, as I'm usually lost - until I arrive at wherever it is I am being led. For me, it really IS the journey that matters - an attitude, which I am pleased to announce, I find very Jedi. :)

    For example, my very first real magnum opus - which is NOT posted on these boards, BTW - started out to be a fairly straightforward, canon account of what might have happened had Darth Sidious decided to pursue Obi-WAn to become his new apprentice after the death of Maul. Nothing too bizarre, lots of opportunity for dastardly acts and smashing heroics - and happy ending written all over it. Only - guess what? Once upon a time - on the way to a conclusion - a strange thing happened - and we wound up with this hugely unexpected left turn into an alternative universe.

    Nevertheless, even with the dramatic ending, I hope it preserved the spirit and the tone of the original. And maybe that's the real issue. How do you preserve the spirit of the GFFA, while twisting the setting into complete pandemonium? And that doesn't mean it can't be done - just means it would be interesting to see how it's accomplished.

    CYN
     
  8. DarthBreezy

    DarthBreezy Force Ghost star 6

    Registered:
    Jun 4, 2002
    Hey Cyn, I was wondering when you'd join the fray as (if you saw) I quoted you quite extensively at the start! ;) :p


    I have my own 'magnum opus' that is right now in the relm of spec for episode III... I HOPE it stays i the relm of cannon in the fact that I HOPE Anakin gets some 'future daddy' time... but then some people will scream "That's EU! THAT'S EU! :eek: even tho the ONLY folks who know for sure, aren't talking yet!!
     
  9. JediGaladriel

    JediGaladriel Manager Emeritus star 5 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Registered:
    Sep 3, 1999
    Like I said, I wouldn't call that AU. Even if it turns out that Anakin never knew about Padme's pregancy in Ep3--for some reason, I think he will know about it, but believe her dead during that pregnancy, but I have no particular reason for believing that--I'd still just term it speculation which turned out to not have been the case, rather than an outright AU. I mean, at the time you're writing it, you're not contradicting anything in the movies thus far, right? And you're not using it to change the outcome? IMHO, not AU.
     
  10. CYNICAL21

    CYNICAL21 Jedi Padawan star 4

    Registered:
    Jul 8, 2001
    I don't know that I agree, Galadriel. There is an old (and probably completely discredited) theory about every action having dozens of possible consequences - and each of those results actually happening along different time lines. Now we're getting into areas of space/time and dimensions and quantum theory that generally give me a headache - BUT - I don't know that every single one of those alternatives might not be considered AU. I think it lumps together with those old tall tales about altering the course of the future because a butterfly in Colorado doesn't beat its wings at a certain moment, giving rise to a whole new string of events that results in California NOT sinking into the Sea on such-and-such a day.

    So - let's look at just one individual - and just one event - and see what happens. And, for once, let's avoid our favorite characters and pull in one less well-known - and let's make it as simple as possible - so that headache doesn't get too bad. So - what about Sebulba - the Dug. Let's say that, on the morning of a certain podrace on Tatooine - a race which would draw the attention, and the wagers, of one Gardula the Hutt - that Sebulba woke up that morning with a withering, blithering case of the Dug version of Montezuma's Revenge. And that it just so happens that, on that same day, a little known racer - doesn't matter who - is entered into the race, using a brand new podracer belonging to - you guessed it - Gardula the Hutt. Now - in our GFFA - Sebulba avoided his dose of creeping crud, went out and won his race, as always, causing Gardula the Hutt to lose its wager - and, as a direct consequence, causing one human mother and her fatherless pup to fall into the greedy hands of one Watto the Toydarian. But what if it hadn't happened that way? What if Anakin and his mother had been destined - and doomed - to live out the rest of their desperate existence in a dark den of evil out in the Jungland wastes - or in some insect-infested monstrosity on Nal Hutta?

    Obviously, the saga - as we know it - exists no more. Now, is this simply a speculation of a different timeline? It is, after all, only one minor change in the scheme of things. It's also a perfect definition of a domino theory. :D

    I therefore conclude that we can't know the extent of the change caused by any alteration in the actions of any of our characters. A small change for one may prove drastic for another, and, voila! A brand new AU is born.

    In Breezy's scenario, suppose Anakin is so enamored of the prospect of fatherhood, that it gives him enough strength to resist Palpy's siren's song? Speculation - or AU?

    And re the question of how far is too far - I think we all have to decide that for ourselves. For me - I can accept a lot of things - and admire the chutzpah of a writer who really stretches the framework of our GFFA - but I don't think I could overlook such blatant distortions as - for example - Padmé as a power hungry poisoner - or Qui-Gon as the true Sith - or Obi-Wan as evil incarnate - or Han as Boy George (No offense). You get my drift, I'm sure. You can change the circumstances of their lives - but if you change who they really are, you might as well be writing Lost in Space.

    Oh, and BTW, I don't have a big problem with Obidalla stories; they are after all two beautiful and appealing young people, and Anakin, in the beginning at least, is a bit on the young side to be an obstacle. I'm not even entirely certain that he ever
    gets beyond that stage. OK. OK. Don't shoot - I give up! BUT - having said that - I have a huge problem when it is suggested that Obi-WAn would go after Padmé AFTER she is Anakin's wife. From my perspective, Obi-wan symbolizes nobility - and, just like you don't tread on Superman's cape - you don't make passes at your best friend's wife.

    CYN
     
  11. Darth_Tim

    Darth_Tim Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    Feb 26, 2002
    If you call crossovers a breed of AU's (which I guess you could) then that's too much for me...unless you're writing something deliberately humorous.

    Why don't a lot of people like Obidalas? I don't want to get started on that one.

    I like AU's that aim towards the same goal by alternate means (as opposed to taking canon and totally altering the outcome, though that can be cool too...) for example, in one of my stories, Luke and Leia die in the very beginning, but the whole idea was to still have Vader redeem himself at the end, just through a different chain of events.

    "Time travel" plots get annoying sometimes too...maybe it's just because I've watched too many bad Trek episodes, or just it's a story starting out with an obvious plot device...LOL.

    -Tim

     
  12. CYNICAL21

    CYNICAL21 Jedi Padawan star 4

    Registered:
    Jul 8, 2001
    Oh, well, Tim - you just managed to shoot down one of my budding plotlines!! :D

    I have to admit that I'm not too fond of crossovers myself - but, to each his own.

    CYN
     
  13. Neon Star

    Neon Star Jedi Grand Master star 5

    Registered:
    Mar 30, 2000
    As an extensive AU writer, as that is almost all I write now. I just wanted to point out to whoever said AUs were easy to write. They are as hard to write as any other type of fiction. You have to play within a certian bounds in a serious AU, though you've basically derailed the whole thing. You've got to give reasons to why this or that is happening, why a certian char has gone off the deep end and such.

    Oh, and I can't consider some Obi tortures to be AUs, because we don't know what happened during a majority of his life. We just know it didn't leave any major damage.
     
  14. JediGaladriel

    JediGaladriel Manager Emeritus star 5 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Registered:
    Sep 3, 1999
    Obviously, the saga - as we know it - exists no more. Now, is this simply a speculation of a different timeline? It is, after all, only one minor change in the scheme of things. It's also a perfect definition of a domino theory

    That would be an AU because it's a deliberately changed event in the course of the movies. A speculation about what happens in Episode 3 pretty much can't be an AU, since at this point even Lucas doesn't have that script completed. It's just a speculation. It could be an AU if it posited that something different had happened earlier (eg, your Sebulba speculation), in which everyone is in a different place at the beginning of Ep3 than they are now. But just taking what we know from the movies right now and speculating doesn't make it an alternate universe. If the movie does something different, it makes it a speculation that turned out to be wrong. If you want to be clever, then you can make it an AU after the movie by going back and introducing the things that made your scenario different from the movie scenario and therefore creating a different reality... but I wouldn't call it an AU just because it was different. I don't call Wendy Dale Smith's Episode II script an AU, just a speculation, because it followed what she knew from the Classic trilogy and TPM and spun a possible outcome of that. It turned out not to be what happened, but that doesn't make it AU. If she wrote a sequel to it, using that as a base, then it would be AU, since she's using a deliberately altered account.

    But if at the time of writing it is not an AU but a speculation of a possible outcome of known factors, it remains a speculation.

    I never write versions of Episode III (and wrote none of Episode II, except as one-scene challenges) because it would take too much danged work to make them real AUs later. With my "Padme lived" stories, all I'll have to do is, if she dies in Episode 3, find a way to introduce that that single event was changed and poof! AU. :) (And no, I don't count things that ignore the EU as AU--again, because those aren't deliberate changes. AUs must acknowledge the original universe to highlight their changes; an EU/AU would therefore need to account for what happened to Thrawn, Mara, etc. Post-RotJ stories that don't acknowledge the novels I would just consider alternative speculations.)
     
  15. CYNICAL21

    CYNICAL21 Jedi Padawan star 4

    Registered:
    Jul 8, 2001
    Well, I certainly agree that AU's, in their own way, are as difficult to write as canon. In a way, you're creating your own universe, extrapolating from one created by someone else - and you've got no reference points to guide you.

    And I don't think I could say which genre I prefer over the other. As long as the plot is well-developed and the characters finely drawn, I'm there. Except - and I know I'm going to hear a chorus of 'Boos' here - but, what the heck? I don't care much for NJO - and it has nothing to do with the quality of the fanfics devoted to them. I don't like where the Pro-authors have taken them - and I won't go into why, because I doubt that anyone cares, and it won't change anyone's attitude by a single hair's breadth.

    Enough to say that - to me - they don't
    'feel' like Star Wars.

    OK - Now I'm really running for cover. :eek:

    Oh, but, BTW Galadriel - I concede your point - mainly because the necessity for convoluted thinking to dispute it is, as expected, giving me a headache - although I do think we're debating a bit of 'You say tomato' and 'I say to-mah-to'. No? :D



    CYN
     
  16. DarthBreezy

    DarthBreezy Force Ghost star 6

    Registered:
    Jun 4, 2002
    "In Breezy's scenario, suppose Anakin is so enamored of the prospect of fatherhood, that it gives him enough strength to resist Palpy's siren's song? Speculation - or AU?"

    Well.. technicly it still falls under spec because in the "BIG MONSTER LIFE SUCKING STORY" (and every FF author eventually writes one... it's the 30+ pages of word story that eats you alive until you finish it! LOLOLOL) that my little fics sprang from Anakin STILL turns... No happily ever here... (In my mind, I saw Anakin initially equating strength and power with protecting his family... at least in his skewed idea)


    So once again, it bounces back to "Spec vs EU"... Much as I'd LOVE to see Anakin have his happily ever after I know it doesn't happen... EU to me gets too strange when Anakin goes into a Kareeokee (sp... kinda glad I can't spell that word! bar)... I can handel SOME suspention of belief, just don't ask me to have Captian Picard save the day.... (The great debate is over... Palatine's first name is Jean-Luke!)
     
  17. JediGaladriel

    JediGaladriel Manager Emeritus star 5 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Registered:
    Sep 3, 1999
    Okay, we all seem to be using different definitions here. Mine, succinctly (she can be succinct! Who knew?):

    Alternate universe: Story deliberately created by author to explore a GFFA in which the plot scenario has been changed in some way. Eg, What if Anakin never turned? What if Qui-Gon Jinn had lived? This can include the original changing event, or it can simply pick up a story in which the event was changed before the opening.

    Speculation: Guess about something that could conceivably happen given canon sources. Eg, an Episode three speculation based on a premise established in Episodes 1-2, 4-6, or speculations about how the twins may have grown up, based on information and characterization presented in the movies. These things may end up "true" or they may end up proved wrong, or may never be explored in the movies at all, but because the author is not deliberately making a change in canon, they aren't AU. Most fanfic and profic falls into this category.
     
  18. CYNICAL21

    CYNICAL21 Jedi Padawan star 4

    Registered:
    Jul 8, 2001
    Breezy - That's Jean Luc to you. [face_mischief] And I don't know how to spell it either.

    I think Anakin wandering into that kind of bar would fall under 'character assassination' - don't you?

    Like Qui-Gon breaking into a rousing rendition of Some Enchanted Evening under Yaddle's window - or Obi-Wan deciding to become the blood brother of Jar-Jar Binks - or Padmé taking up a career in mud wrestling. I mean - some things are just beyond the pale - and Jean Luc couldn't save a single one of them.

    Bravo on your suggestion for Palpatine's moniker. I think that's perfect. LOL

    Galadriel - I understand your distinctions - and agree. The only thing is, I still wonder if most of us know - in the beginning - which type we are writing. It is ridiculously easy to slide from one - to the other - before you even realize what you've done.

    And, just for the record, 'succinct' is not generally a part of my vocabulary either. :D

    Night, All.

    CYN
     
  19. JediGaladriel

    JediGaladriel Manager Emeritus star 5 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Registered:
    Sep 3, 1999
    I'm sorry, it's late, and I'm not following your argument. If an AU is always a deliberate change in canon, then how could it be accidental? I only consider something AU if the change in scenario is the whole point to writing the story, the what-if question that the story is based on from the beginning.
     
  20. CYNICAL21

    CYNICAL21 Jedi Padawan star 4

    Registered:
    Jul 8, 2001
    Quickly, because - like that famous rabbit - I'm late, I'm late. A case in point was my very first SW novel, which started out to be a speculation, but was meant to end as a part of George's canon universe. The speculation was that, after Maul's death, Sidious would try to seduce Obi-Wan to the Dark side, to become the new Sith apprentice. This was written and completed prior to the completion of Ep.II, so - though it was unlikedly in the extreme, especially given GL's famed indifference to the OW character - it was within the realm of possibility. Therefore - a speculation. However, just over half way through writing it, the characters began to speak to me and tug at my consciousness and insist that there was another way to end it - a more dramatic way to end it - an ending that just cried to be written. And how was I to resist that siren's song? In the end, of course, I didn't and I wrote the ending that I could not resist - and the ending made it flagrantly, unavoidably AU, because, even though at that time we didn't know what Ep. 2 & 3 were going to reveal, we sure as heck already knew what Ep. 4 told us, and my dramatic climax was in total opposition to the reality of A New Hope.

    Have I clarified - or made it even muddier?

    CYN
     
  21. JediGaladriel

    JediGaladriel Manager Emeritus star 5 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Registered:
    Sep 3, 1999
    I would say that wasn't accidental. ;)

    That's an interesting case and I guess that works, though I would say that changing Obi-Wan's archetypical role from mentor to hero (in the Campbellian sense rather than the colloquial) is a deliberate change in the scenario that would inevitably lead to differences in the outcome of the story, and I guess as a reader if I'd been going into it, my assumption would have been from the start that it was meant to be AU, simply because it would be too close to what we know happened to Anakin, and the usurpation of the position would have consequences.
     
  22. Jedi_Liz

    Jedi_Liz Jedi Grand Master star 6

    Registered:
    Apr 24, 2000
    i don't know how much is too much AU. My current fic (Lightswords of Fury) technically ignores all the EU books and comics written after The Last Command timeline so I can write my own story.


    I tend to ignore a lot of the EU books for my stories, though sometimes I may use characters from EU books.
     
  23. JediGaladriel

    JediGaladriel Manager Emeritus star 5 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Registered:
    Sep 3, 1999
    I ignore all EU as a matter of course. I'd say that ignoring something doesn't make an AU, because an AU needs to acknowledge it in order to be an alternate version of it.
     
  24. obaona

    obaona Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    Jun 18, 2002
    Just want to give my two cents real quick. ;)

    My personal definition of AU is any story that is different from canon and is still in the SW universe (crossovers need not apply). So that includes wife beating Ani's and dark Obi's. But wait! My personal opinion of wife beating Ani's and dark Obi's is that while it is AU, its just not a good one. Simple, no?

    I am currently writing an AU (come to think of it - I'm writing two like that!) which a number of people have called the best AU they've ever read (on FF.N). It's fairly easy to grasp why. For example: in my fic Tainted Child I went from a simple premise. What if Obi-Wan never knew of the twins? What would happen? In my fic Vader raised Luke until he was five - and then Obi-Wan finds him by accident and kidnaps him, and Leia is killed when she's four because Sith can't have two apprentices, right? This leads to numerous other events which completely change how things happen, and even what happens to the Jedi (such as whether they go in hiding or whatever). BUT all of my characters still act like normal - with the possible exception of Luke, since his childhood was quite different. But back to my point. My point is, this storyline could quite easily have had Obi-Wan as evil and a loving father/son relationship with Vader and Luke. But how realistic would this be, all considering? Vader is a Sith and Obi-Wan is a Jedi. I think people like my fic because it is (mostly) realistic.

    So, in conclusion, AU is AU - there's just a lot of bad AU's out there.

    P.S. Sorry for how screwed up that all sounds. I don't do this kind of thing normally. :)
     
  25. CYNICAL21

    CYNICAL21 Jedi Padawan star 4

    Registered:
    Jul 8, 2001
    I ignore all EU as a matter of course.

    I knew there was a reason I liked you! :D

    CYN
     
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