attackfish: Yshre girl wearing a kippah, text "Attackfish" (Default)
[personal profile] attackfish
[personal profile] sholio wrote an essay just recently about why Steve/Bucky AUs don't work for her (the AU part, not the Steve/Bucky part) and quite apart from the contents of the essay, it got me wondering about what we call AUs in fandom currently.  Back when I got started, *crotchety old fan voice* things like high school AUs and coffee shop AUs were called "ARs", or Alternate Reality fics whereas  "AU" referred more broadly to both ARs and also "what if" stories.  However, [personal profile] sholio only talked about AR-style AUs, and a number of her points don't really work for what if AUs.  A while back, I ran an Avatar: the Last Airbender AU meme, and after getting almost exclusively AR prompts (and most of those for fusions) I had to explain that what if prompts were definitely also accepted.  I periodically see meta about how the writer of said meta doesn't think AUs are enough like canon, then goes on to describe only AR-style AUs.

Did the meaning of AU narrow  and I didn't realize it? I would kind of like to know, most of what I write other than drabbles are what-ifs.  What if Lupin bit Snape when they were in school, what if Azula captured Zuko at the beginning of  "The Southern Raiders," what if Iroh died when he drank white jade tea. The story I'm working on right now is a what if: what if those Earth Kingdom soldiers in Book One had managed to capture Iroh and Zuko and take them to Ba Sing Se.  If these aren't AUs, I kind of would like to know what to call them.

Date: 2014-09-17 08:24 pm (UTC)
opusculasedfera: stack of books, with a mug of tea on top (Default)
From: [personal profile] opusculasedfera
I believe the current common term is Canon AU, though most people would say just that they were writing "an AU where Azula captured Zuko, etc." to use your example. I remember the term AR, but I don't think it's in use now at all, except possibly in the oldest fandom spaces where people are still discussing long defunct shows.

It's perhaps not so much that canon AUs aren't happening now, it's just that they tend to come up less in meta because people seem to have fewer issues with broad trends in them (except perhaps fandom specific ones, if there's a spate of "latest huge spoiler in $show never happened!"), whereas a lot of people have Views on how to determine which elements of character and setting-as-it-defines-character (e.g. the Steve+Bucky longstanding friendship in the post you linked) are most crucial to correctness in ARs.

Date: 2014-09-19 07:48 pm (UTC)
opusculasedfera: stack of books, with a mug of tea on top (Default)
From: [personal profile] opusculasedfera
Heh, you and me both, sister.

That's a good analogy. It is really weird how AU is sort of morphing into "plot ideas" when people talk about it in the abstract, when those ideas may or may not be AUs depending on the fandom you choose to write them in, or even how you choose to write them. Don't we already have 'prompts' to cover that?

Date: 2014-09-19 08:50 pm (UTC)
opusculasedfera: stack of books, with a mug of tea on top (Default)
From: [personal profile] opusculasedfera
I think [personal profile] sholio's got the right of it: some people are so focused on the meeting between the members of their ship that that's their default state of affairs for any plot so they come up with these bizarre "AUs" because they don't bother to state that these are about the meet cute, which obviously happened differently in canon. Which makes it not exactly a universal sort of AU when a lot of people aren't interested in alternative relationship structures except, actually, in canon AUs!

Leaving aside as well the fact that virtually the most boringly typical way for humans to meet is while slightly intoxicated at a festivity. :P Not that you can't write that well, but dang, sometimes these plot ideas seem really dull compared to the SFFnal shows I know the prompters are mostly writing in. Hmmmm, put like that, I wonder if this formulation came out of J2 or one of the other media RPF fandoms that seem to spawn a lot of AUs that are almost like original movies with the actors in mind for the leads. It seems to be more recent though, so perhaps not.

Date: 2014-09-19 11:55 pm (UTC)
opusculasedfera: stack of books, with a mug of tea on top (Default)
From: [personal profile] opusculasedfera
I honestly didn't really notice or at least not even put it all together until we were having this conversation and I was thinking about why people put together those lists like that. But there have been a couple go past on my tumblr dash that are explicitly lists of alternate meetings, and the rest of them do make more sense if you think of them like that.

See, that's perfectly reasonable! There's nothing wrong with alcohol and parties, I have also used them as an incident in multiple fics, I just don't understand why people would take a couple who met, say, travelling across the world to incite revolution or in a complicated and emotionally fraught court situation, to bring it back to AtLA, and have their entire story be that they have some mutual friends and met while tipsy at someone's house, generally in modern North America. It's just so much less intrinsically interesting, why make work for yourself? It's not why I'm in the fandom, at any rate.

Date: 2014-09-17 09:08 pm (UTC)
lizbee: The Gallifreyan Citadel from "Sound of Drums", a Time Lord standing to the right. Text: gallifrey (DW: Gallifrey)
From: [personal profile] lizbee
I've been wondering the same thing! Especially because I keep seeing a list of any-fandom "AU" prompts that don't even need to be AU. "Drunk at a party" could happen in nearly any fandom, and so forth.

Date: 2014-09-18 04:03 am (UTC)
sholio: sun on winter trees (Default)
From: [personal profile] sholio
Yeah, I realize, reading this, that I should've specified I meant total AUs and not any AUs. The terminology I'm familiar with is total AU (i.e. coffee shop AU, space AU) vs ... well, I've heard a lot of different terms for the other kind, the kind you write: canon-divergent AUs or canon-based AU or what-if AU or alternate timeline are all things that I've heard people call them.

In any case, it seems like AU is still generally used as an umbrella term for all forms of non-canon-compliant fic, whether a branching timeline or a completely different universe -- well, to the extent that I'm clued into popular fannish terminology myself, which is ... not very. XD I guess for myself, when I say "AU" without specifying a type, it's total AUs I'm talking about (as my meta shows, I guess!) but it certainly doesn't confuse me when people say "AU" and mean a fic of the turn-left-at-canon type.

In any case, I'm sorry for being confusing with my own imprecise use of terms!


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