Hi, first off I wanted to tell you your blog has been so much help with my book I couldn't say thank you enough. So thank you. And I've read through quite a few of your tags and I couldn't find anything about alternate history. In my story a countries history is completely different from what it actually is and I was just wondering how I would let readers know that? Or would that fact the country still has it's own monarchy be enough? Thank you again.
When writing alternate history, in order to let the readers know that history has been altered you need to let them know about the Point of Divergence. If they know what the POD is, it will help them create a mental timeline of this alternate history and it will tell them that this is an alternate history. Otherwise, they may be confused as to why this world is different (if it’s not already stated in the summary).
The POD can happen prior to the story, during the story, or right after the story (it will have to be heavily implied that the events of the book will cause a major change in our history). However, the description of the book will most likely say that it is an alternate history.
- Prior: If the POD occurs prior to the story, there are a lot of ways you can show it. It can be a prologue, a flashback, a conversation, or anything else you can think of. It can be more difficult to do this when the historical event you changed or when the place you’ve set your story in is lesser-known. You should show how the POD has affected history and society throughout the story. There should be more than one difference in the world. Talk about well-known events that have been changed so that the reader is more aware that this is a different world.
- During: It’s easier to show the POD if it happens during the story, depending on where your story is set and what historical event you’ve changed. However, the aftermath and showing the effects of the POD can be difficult. A lot of detail is needed and, again, try to see how your changes have affected other major historical events/the future.
- After: If the POD comes right after the end of the story or if it happens at the end and the readers don’t get to see the changes, the story must heavily imply that something different it going to happen. Even better than implying is the characters knowing what will/won’t happen and talking about it.