What makes good Alternate History?
It's Epic, but It's Personal
There's a lot going on, but the reader can empathize with all the characters. Alternate History with historical figures as characters is like a mystery novel, the reader should be trying to figure out how this historical figure will react to this new situation before the author reveals it.
A well-written history book is interesting, because it's not just dates, but about people being people. Everybody who's a people empathizes with people. And all the history stuff will keep the sociopaths interested, so you're golden.
The Alternate History is just as interesting as the Real History
That is, it stands up as a story unto itself. If the reader has Done The Research, they should be able to See Your Work, but if the reader doesn't know Istanbul from Constantinople, they should still have a good time exploring the streets.
Unless you're writing an alternate history of the Civil War, because then you'd better not patronize them or they'll reenact burning you in effigy. Those guys are hardcore.
It Makes You Laugh
at least once. Richard Nixon as a gas station attendant. Ha!
It Makes You Think
Just like good historical fiction lets you empathize with The Past, alternate history lets you empathize with The Present. Like all good Speculative Fiction, it should also prepare you to empathize the Future.
Since it was a two-parter, I would be remiss if I didn't have a related video clip. From the other great game by the same company set in a somehow even softer Alternate History, I present to you the Greatest Cut-Scene of All Time.
"This is the Pentagon."
Short, and Sweeeeeet. Once again, those of you afflicted by nostalgia will be much more affected by the first appearance of Kane.
Anyways, that was my first primer on introducing a character.
I drink a lot of caffeine, and I prefer to take it in the form of green tea. It has zero calories and is easy to make in large quantities so as not to disturb my writing.
It is also incredibly cheap if you don't get all picky.
250 words? Yes
Short Story "Cosmast Rhyt"
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Reading - "Tai-Pan" (James Clavell)