Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Using real current events in a fictional work

Blechta here.

Something major happens in the world, everyone is fascinated by it, appalled by it, frightened, happy, sad, whatever. What if those of us who write fiction make use of it? Is it crass commercialism, a savvy move, in bad taste? Or is it really smart, a great way to increase the verismo of our plotlines?

This is something I’ve always struggled with. I don’t mean that we should necessarily use whatever this event is as the main component of our plots, but would that little bit of current events add a frisson of realism to an otherwise completely made up series of events?

I’m sure everyone reading this is thinking, “9/11, of course,” and that overwhelming event still casts a large shadow over all of humanity. We all know exactly where we were and what we were doing when we found out the tragic events that had happened in New York on that dreadful morning, don’t we? I sure do. (If you’re old enough, I can also tell you exactly where I was when I found out JFK had been assassinated in Dallas.) The death of Princess Diana also comes to mind.

There are writers who have done this, of course. Unfortunately, I’m too brain-dead at this point to think of any of them, so can anyone help me out? Do you know of anyone who has — successfully or unsuccessfully — used a real life event as the backdrop to their story?

Would you think any less of me if I did that?


1 comment:

Kerrie said...

Ian Rankin does it with most of his novels, sets the crime against the background of something happening in Edinburgh like a G20 summit.mthing like James Lee Burke's TIN ROOF BLOWDOWN which is based on Hurricane Katrina