All the blame for this goes to team_kirkrand
(my oh-so-awesome team for the oh-so-awesome Ship Olympics at st_respect
). The third prompt for the competition was AU, and, as a team, we decided to focus on creating an AU based around World War 2, which... is a cool, cool era, especially for Jim & Janice, but not one that I have much imagination for in a ficish way.
Except that I stumbled into a few wikipedia articles about WW2, and, three hours of clicking later, I ended up at the Berlin Blockade page
and couldn't get the event out of my head. Here's this truly heroic
event, with a clear narrative and climax, filled with crazy details of men and women using new technology, sheer guts, and freakin' incredible logistics
to achieve something that was truly thought impossible until they went and did it.
And now, 5k of words deep into writing what is clearly going to become a big bang fic (there was no chance it was going to get finished in time for the competition), I'm just starting to figure out how, in good conscious, I can write fic about a historical event that plenty of people still alive experienced. 'Cause that's the rub, right? Real place, real time, real people, real events - I really
don't want to screw this up.
Obviously, there's no point in reinventing the wheel, so I've been reading up on the process of writing by published historical fiction authors. The article that is pinned on my bookmarks bar is Elizabeth Cook's Seven Rules for Writing Historical Fiction
, and I'm steadily working my way through the links on Cindy Vallar's Historical Fiction vs. History
. I also have an interlibrary loan request out for The Art and Craft of Writing Historical Fiction
, which I hope lives up to the praise of its reviews.
So far, the big two takeaways for me from all this reading is that (1) you should drown yourself in research, (come up for air, and then dive back in if needed) and (2) a historical detail should be in a story for the same reason any other detail is - because it helps develop your characters and plot. Both points are, well, obvious, but they're good things to keep repeating to myself as I write - and number two is going to be key as I go into a first edit.
One thing that profic authors don't have to worry about, however, is how to fit their characters into the historical period; their characters develop from
the historical period. When this AU first popped into my head, I struggled with how to place the Star Trek gang into this big event without allowing them to be the catalysts of
this big event, since that role is already filled by the real people who were there. While I could replace everyone who played a part with individuals from the Star Trek universe - oh god, it'd be so easy
to do that - I'm just too uncomfortable doing that with a historical event as recent as WWII. Erasing people who are still alive from the historical record... eh, I just can't do that.
I think I've figured out roles for Kirk et al. for this AU - ways they can be in the airlift without being leaders of the airlift while still
being recognizably the type of crew that defeated Nero & saved the Earth as a bunch of raw cadets, but that's definitely where the heaviest lifting has been needed in figuring out how to plot out all of this fic that's eaten my brain.
to add that I'm working from home today, and have been watching old TOS episodes on tv (Google TV plus youtube equals awesome - I love living in the future). Sulu's adorable unicorn dog from The Enemy Within
just appeared on the screen yipping, and my equally adorable non-unicorn dog just wagged her tail at him. The cute, I cannot describe it.