We’ve got just 6 weeks until stories are due in on the Across the Universe Beatles alternate universe/”what if” anthology and we are here to tell you we are definitely still looking for your brilliance!
So this post is reaching out to those of you who haven’t yet started a story and those who might have looked at our first call-out for writers and said, “Eh, nothing strikes me.”
Having now seen a slew of stories come in, some of which had us saying yay, some saying nay, and some saying meh, we thought it was a good time to bring into greater resolution the sorts of stories we’re still hoping to see in this book.
What We Want
In broad picture terms, we want these to be speculative, and because they’re going to be fictional by definition they’ll be alternate history stories. But this does not mean you should simply pick a point in Beatles history and make a tiny tweak. What we want you to do is think about the guys, and their music, and their influences and find a way to mix them up in a creative way that also tells a deeper story. Such as:
Think of obscure (or lesser-known) moments in their lives and riff on that: Their visit to India, their ride on the Magical Mystery Tour bus. What it’s like to be chased down the street by screaming fans.
Go outside actual history. Make up a history from whole cloth.
Consider them as individuals: Each of the Beatles has rich and varied interests. One married a wealthy American whose father had been a lawyer for big band artists. One found his spiritual north in a country far away from Britain. One settled in the United States and married a Japanese artist. One nearly died of peritonitis when he was a child and spent a week in a hospital. All of this is healthy territory to mine; the connection to the band itself can be passing at best.
Make sure you’re writing a story. This means a character arc, change, climax, resolution among other things. You have to get into your characters’ heads and show us what they’re about, not just what they do.
Consider pairing the guys up with people they never met, but who existed in their timeline. Or people they did meet, but we don’t know much about. Or people they met in a public manner, but maybe a side of that we never saw. What if Lennon and Keith Richards had stumbled out of that Crawdaddy Club first meetup and gotten shitfaced in a corner of London?
Get crazy! Maybe the Beatles aren’t even in it! NASA beamed “Across the Universe” actually into space, which may mean if there are aliens they’ll catch those beams first. Could an alien travel light years to find the guys at a gig? What would that fandom be like?
Don’t send us stuff below 2,000 words. Max: 4,000. Also, note the small change in payment: We are paying $.05/word now, not a flat $200. Send to WhatIfBeatlesAnthology@gmail.com.
And if you have a genius work that just needs a little more time (or a little more space than 4,000 words), let us know and we’ll see if we can accommodate.
What We Don’t Want
Having either seen these or blissfully been spared these, what we don’t want are stories that just lay flat on the page. Like someone who decides the Beatles were all pet dogs and spends most of the story describing the funny ways the dogs look like the band members. Here are a few things to avoid:
Unless you’ve got an amazing John Is/Was Never/Has Come Back story and you really will blow our mop tops off, don’t send it. We’ve seen a lot of those, and we’ve got what we need. There’s one other late band member, who was dramatically attacked by a knife-wielding housebreaker and – somehow that’s not interesting?
If you think to yourself, “This is a well-known piece of Beatle trivia history!” then you can also probably skip it. Not just because everyone else has had that idea, but because it’s unoriginal.
Avoid press conferences, stories that are 90% dialogue, “interviews” and other such staged creations. They don’t provide room to tell a story in most cases. You might get away with an epistolary story, but again, watch your arcs.
Along that same line, don’t quote directly from other sources like articles, or actual interviews they did. If you must, keep it very short or paraphrase. There’s a fine line between stealing for verisimilitude and creating your own reality.
To Sum Up….
Please do send us stories – we definitely want them, and the book can’t be ready until we fill it up with greatness. Can’t wait to read your own!
Here’s the original post with the specifications – be sure to read it to know how to format your finished masterwork.