Everything's the same but different... The AU challenge.
For those of you unfamiliar with AUs or who might have a different definition than the one I'll be using for the purposes of this ficathon, a very quick explanation, with handy-dandy examples I've unleashed from the back of my mind.
Most femslash fan-fiction is, to some extent, AU as it tends to veer off from canon at a fixed point, but what we're talking about here are absolute AUs, that veer off from canon in a spectacular way, creating a new universe for our established characters to play in. Yes, I know, as clear as mud, which is why I'm going to use examples.
The different setting AU:
This is very popular in the Bad Girls fandom, and possibly others, and basically takes all or some of the characters you know and puts them into a different setting. So everyone retains their name, physical attributes and characterisation, but these are then moulded by the setting. This type of AU works especially well with fandoms that rely heavily on the setting, such as a prison, to provide the drama and character motivation.
Helen Stewart, a university fast-tracker, is promoted to DI at a new police station, Larkhall, where she runs afoul of DS Fenner, the shady and malevolent thug, but finds help and understanding from an unlikely source, namely one Nikki Wade, big-mouthed DS with a score to settle with Fenner. (example from an actual story)
The kids of Skins get put through basic training on some God forsaken army base somewhere, with not a spliff in sight.
The fork in the road AU:
If you've watched any of the parallel universe episodes on Star Trek, Buffy or Xena you probably know what these are. Basically, they're the road not taken, an action or set of actions that could change history forever. For instance, what if Hitler had won the Second World War? How would it have affected your life as you're living it now? Or what if either your mum or dad had had a headache the night you were meant to be conceived?
What if the Borg had wiped out nearly all of humankind in the battle of Wolf 539? Would any of Voyager's crew have survived? Would Janeway be leading a Marquis type rebellion against the Borg menace?
How would the inhabitants of Springfield survive a post-Apocolypse wasteland where the most treasured commodity was water? (with P.A. fics you can set your defining moment - natural disaster, man-made, whatever - as far back in the past as you like, really)
What if Blair or Serena's parents lost all their money when they were younger and one of them finds herself working for the other (Dorota must take holidays)?
Basically, you take the characters you know and shake 'em up a little, but still keep them true to themselves (that's the hardest part). The beauty of an AU challenge is that it can apply to every single fandom and can have a billion and one different variations.
Deadline: 18th July 2009 (IDF!)
Minimum Word Count: 5,000 (single fic or series)
There isn't an official sign-up, as the fandom possibilities are far too extensive for assigned stories, but if you think you'll be taking part in the challenge I'd love to know.
(Original AUs only, please, so no Wish 'verse, Conqueror 'verse or any other alternative reality that's appeared on screen or page)