AUs is a term used mostly in fandom that refers to Alternative Universes. Mostly used in fanfics to signal a diversion from canon. 

So, it probably comes to no surprise to any of you who are writers that out of all the stuff I write, only a very small fraction is intended for publication. Even within the confines of the fantasy universe I created for my series. 

Most of the things I write go into a category I called “just writing”. Writing for the sake of writing, sometimes I write scenes from my book from a different perspective, sometimes I write cute fluffy scenes that don’t get into the book and sometimes, I go off the rails and write AUs. 

What would have happened if my main character had not been tempted by the inciting event and stayed put? 

What would have happened if this character didn’t come help? 

What would have happened if the villain waited just a bit longer? Or came a bit earlier? 

These are the questions I fumble with at two in the morning until I eventually make my way out of bed, into the living room, grab my keyboard and type. These are AUs. And they are an amazing resource. 

Not only do they allow you to really get to know your characters even outside the main narrative, not only do they allow you to do some extra world building, they allow you to see what really matters to your plot. 

Whenever I write AUs there are a couple of scenes that just keep coming up, no matter how far I stray from canon. Some of these make sense, there’s a reveal somewhere along the time, of course, because this information exists and will come out sooner or later no matter what happens. 

But then there are smaller things, like characters always ending up together, even if sometimes they try out different relationships first. That comforts me in that this is the correct pairing. 

Nothing is written in stone. However, there are certainly things that are more or less important, and we might not realise what those are. Writing AUs is a great way to enjoy writing without the pressure, practice, get to know characters, world build and find out which are the pillars of your series. 

I tend to stick to “what if” AUs, I’ve never written full on “high school” or “coffee shop” AUs such as in fanfic, but have you ever done that for your own book? Was it fun? Did you learn something new about your characters? I’m curious, maybe I should try it sometime.