December 28th, 2012

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Writing Excuses 7.53: Secret History

Writing Excuses 7.53: Secret History

From http://www.writingexcuses.com/2012/12/26/writing-excuses-7-53-secret-history/

Key Points: Secret history is a subset of alternate history, explaining events from real history through other means, such as supernatural, Fae, aliens, etc. A good secret history does not change the events, just the explanations or off-stage actions. Be careful of cheapening hard questions, and the ethical issues! Secret history is sometimes used to ground a story, to tie it to reality. The best mark of a secret history is if the reader says, "This could be true..." Try to make your characters who are real people caricatures, not perversions. Make sure the history is accurate! Avoid overdone events -- Roswell, JFK assassination, Hitler.
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[Brandon] That's what makes it exciting. Yeah, go read Hamlet, go watch Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, and then pick a piece of history and do the same thing with your characters. All right. Oh...
[Howard] I think that's our...
[Mary] That's our writing prompt.
[Brandon] That's a great writing prompt.
[Howard] I think that's our writing prompt. Well, no, not Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead.
[Mary] No, but...
[Howard] But take a popular piece of entertainment, grab a side character, and write that side character's secret history as if you're doing...
[Brandon] The Tribble episode redone into Deep Space Nine. That's another fake secret history. All right. This has been Writing Excuses. You're out of excuses, now go write.
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