AU Types: a brief overview
So, the whole point of this blog is me suggesting different kinds of au. I was having trouble thinking of some new ones, so I wrote out this classification guide for some of the different kinds of aus that I see and suggest. This is by no means comprehensive, but I think it’s helpful for writing to consider these things. I’d also say that aus can belong to multiple categories at once.
Cover band– You’re playing off of something established already. Take something from one story, and put it in another. Harry Potter and his friends go through the events of the movie Love, Actually. Everyone in Check, Please goes to Hogwarts. Very fun to write, very fun to read, because you’re playing with two things the reader is familiar with but presenting them in an unexpected way.
Fandom Algebra– This is where you equate certain characters in one thing to certain characters in another, x=y style. Harry Potter is Tony Stark. The Avengers are the kids from Stranger Things.
Trope Time– The story is rewritten using certain kinds of tropes, which for the purposes of this writeup I’m going to define as a familiar story that does not necessarily belong to a single, specific, already created story. Some of these tropes are ones I have not seen in other types of media, such as the Soulmate AU, where it is accepted that people have a soulmate and they will discover this in some way. (if someone writes a Soulmate AU with the Butterfly Effect technique described below, I am so excited). I would also classify the tumblr trend of “imagine person A and person B of your otp” and “which person does X and which person does Y” as this.
The Same, But– You change one very specific thing, which doesn’t actually change the world. Harry Potter has red hair like his mother, so Malfoy is ruder to him earlier. Bella lived in New Hampshire before she moved to Forks. Can be cool to think about for a little bit.
Related: Non Sequiter– Something is changed that literally affects nothing. Harry Potter is followed by a bunny rabbit that is never mentioned because it’s not pertinent to his journey. Can be very funny, but usually not substantive.
The Butterfly Effect– You change one very specific thing, and the whole world is changed. I would make something up but Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality is basically the best thing I’ve ever read in my life, and definitely the best example of this. Harry Potter is a Ravenclaw– how was he raised to change this aspect of his personality? What does this do to the events of Sorcerer’s Stone?
Let’s Make This Less Exciting For Some Reason– Okay, there are good reasons for these aus including fun and character exploration, but these are the ones where characters are taken from a very exciting and strange world, and placed in a more mundane setting. Harry Potter is a barista, Hermione is a librarian, Ron is a math teacher. Instead of a vampire, Edward Cullen is a rich creep. All the Disney Princesses go to the same college.