Alternate history/ building a world and timeline for fiction

I’ve thought about the alternate history project and have worked out a way of doing it that answers all the questions everyone asked (on and offline) and a lot more. I thought I’d talk about this a bit, so that you can see why the proposal is the shape it is. This is a proposal only: I’d love your input before I move to something more definite. This post is open to everyone, because some people are interested in the learning about world building and devising alternate history who are not interested in my other work.

One of the worries some people had was that my world building would be affected by sharing things too early, and that there’d be copyright problems with too much sharing. I want to avoid that. I will retain complete ownership of everything I write. If anyone has brilliant ideas, I’ll ask permission before incorporating them into my work and they will be acknowledged in any publications their ideas appear. Without their permission, I won’t include their ideas. And without permission, no-one can use my work. This will not be a Creative Commons project at this point, and maybe not ever. New Ceres has two quite different worlds due to different players, and while that was a lot of fun, I want this to be a very tight world, which means me keeping control of it. 

I’m hoping that, later on, we can move from simply talking about the alternate history and the world building to allowing patrons to play in my sandpit with their own stories and their own art and their own costumes. This has to wait until everything is much more developed. And I need to find a way of doing it that keeps my central control. 

My reasons are not only creative and relating to ownership. This is a working piece of research into world building using alternate history, you see. It takes up where Langue[dot]doc 1305 left off, in a way. It also takes up a branch of my research where History and Fiction left off. It’s exciting stuff and you get to see it before anyone else. No waiting for twelve years and for publishers.

Initially (and I explain this below) the material will be of two types. One will be in the essay section: patrons will get the usual essays, plus those who participate in the alternate history version get an extra one about the alternate history. Because some people are really interested in how I build the alternate history and in learning how to write history into fiction, I’ll write this up and it will be an extra section in the writers’ craft area. Eventually, there will be a second piece of fiction added to the fiction section, too. 

The second type is by enthusiastic patrons who want to chat about the new material. On my Patreon page, every month, anyone who subscribe to any of these things can hop online and chat about what they’ve read. I’ll set up topics open to those who have subscribed at a certain level. 

This building of a world is not a hobby for me. It’s fun, but it’s work. Income is therefore not an optional extra, so the added money to share it with me will be more than a dollar or two. It took me two hundred hours initially to build the New Ceres scenario, and that was just the first set of ideas. 

Income, therefore, matches speed ie if I get $50 a month, the basic (initial) build of the world will take at least two years. If I get less than $50, it’s not worth putting other work aside for, because the pace would be too slow. The changes to the rewards, therefore, need to kick in at a certain point. Fiction only kicks in when I’ve done enough of the alternate history to write the things. I doubt there will be any before next year. I’ll do a bit of announcement when they’re actually beginning. Right now, I’m happy to take advice on how much people are willing to spend to support the new material.

Initially I can rest my work on locations I’ve already checked once. I have my photo library for this purpose. Next year or the year after, I’m going to have to travel if I want this world to work. The bad news is that travel takes a lot of money. The actual shape of the land and feel of a street is really important in effective world building. Since this isn’t an off-planet or not-Earth history (like my New Ceres) there will come a time when streets must be walked. 

The best reward for helping me save what is, for me, a vast sum of money for the travel part of the research, is to see what sort of thing I’m looking for in my travels. There’s one extra reward, then, that has no link to the other ones. It will be a document all on its own. 

Each month I’ll put a little chapbook together of photos. Each one will show the photo-research I did for an earlier project. For some of my novels there will be just one chapbook, while for others there will be more. Your copy would be a simple pdf, marked as specific to my Patreon patrons and containing a commentary relating to world building or to the pictures and related history. Like everything for Patreon, you get an early look and a different look at things I’m working on. These little booklets may appear elsewhere in another form later, but you will have them first and the series will be unique for my patrons. Again, I’d love to know how much people are willing to spend to support this element. 

Those are my thoughts. They’re not final decisions and I haven’t put dollar amounts on them yet. Your say is important to me. Let me know what you think before 25 May, here, as comments, and we can take it from there. Your comments are just your thoughts at this stage – they’re not promises that you’re going to do this or support that.

UPDATE: I'm keeping this open until 15 June because some people would rather talk about it personally and this gives them a chance to talk to me privately. I'll be at the Australian National Convention (Continuum)  in Melbourne over the Queen's Birthday Long Weekend, so if you want to talk about this project, find me.  You don't have to know me! If you don't know me, though, you might want to mention that the alternate history project is what you want to talk about, since people ask me all kinds of fascinating questions at conventions. They also ask me for chocolate, which i will be carrying at Continuum for anyone who needs it.