Monday, April 20, 2020

Pandemic...writing it into your work? Or not?

I’m facing two problems with my newest writing project.

One: Should I incorporate the pandemic into my plot?  Should I make reference to it?

Two: What will life be like in a year from now?

I have a hunch that wearing masks will become ubiquitous, much like it always has been in Asia.

I also believe that shaking hands will become a thing of the past.

And once this is over, I’m guessing there will be a glut of office space that will become available.  Companies will have proof that their employees can function quite nicely from home.

Teleconferencing has already become the new normal.

Will people be carrying around cards proving that they’ve either tested normal or tested that they have had the virus and have built up immunity?  Will those people be the only ones who will be able to go to work, socialize in a bar, or dine in a restaurant?

I recently sent my latest book, Shadow Hill, to my publisher.  Of course I’m always on pins and needles until I hear back from her.  You’re hoping that your work is good, but in the back of your mind, you’re worried sick that they’ll think it’s trash.  When I started writing Shadow Hill, it was easily a year ago.  No one had even heard of Covid-19.

So, there is absolutely no mention of it in the manuscript. Not one word.

In the book, people shake hands, they have face to face meetings, they have drinks together, and they have sex.

In writing the new book, I hate to think that my protagonist might be forced to conduct her investigation and do an interview from her kitchen using Zoom.  I’m not sure I can write an action scene where everyone is wearing a mask. And writing a sex scene between two people who haven’t been isolating for fourteen days?  “No, darling, I’m afraid we’ll have to wait until they invent a vaccine.”

In the New York Times this morning, there’s a lengthy piece about what the next year or two may look like.  It ranges from the mildly frightening to the downright horrifying.

So the big question is: what will be the effects on our writing?


Sailorbuoy said...

Looks like tele-sex is the new phone sex and looking forward to the audio book.

Sara E Johnson said...

I read the NYT article you mentioned; it's comprehensive, sobering, and important to read. The pandemic hasn't infiltrated the book I'm working on now, The Bone Track, but I bet it will make a minor appearance in the 4th.

Sybil Johnson said...

I write cozies. They are my comfort food to read as well. So I don't want to read about what we're going through right now in a cozy mystery. That is not comforting. However, I would be okay with reading a historical set in 1918 during the flu pandemic. Somehow that doesn't bother me.

Frankie Y. Bailey said...

I feel for you on that one. It's a dilemma that I see other writers mentioning.

I have to admit that I'm really glad right now that my amateur sleuth series is still back in 2004. My police procedural series started out as near-future and now -- because time caught up with me -- it is set in an alternate universe. So I can play with the timing or change what happens. And the my book in progress -- thankfully -- is set in 1939.

I have to say, though, that I included mention of 9/11 when I was working on the book in the series set in 2004. Since my books aren't cozies and my character is a crime historian, I was sure readers would notice if she made no mention of the date. She commented about all the flags she was seeing. But flags are easier to insert than masks and social distance concerns.

Rick Blechta said...

Thanks for that link. Yes, a very sobering read.

Charlotte Hinger said...

Cracked up. Couldn't help it. I imagined sexual intrigue with masks and rubber gloves.