Thursday, July 9, 2020

Dear O'Abby: How Soon is Too Soon?

Dear O'Abby,

Just wondering if you think it's too soon to think about writing a novel set during a global pandemic?  

Cheers,

Corona Pirate

Dear Corona Pirate,

Firstly, love your nom-de-plume!  Very apt.

Personally, I feel like it's probably too early to write a book set during this global pandemic.  We're still in the midst of it and how things will play out is yet to be seen.  Given the length of time it takes to write an publish a book, if you write something now, you risk ending up with something that will be dated or wildly inaccurate six months to a year from now.  Better to wait and see how things play out before you dive in and try to make sense of the experience.

That said, there is nothing to stop you from writing about a different pandemic.  Maybe an historical piece set during the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic, or even the years in which the Bubonic Plague swept through Europe.  Alternatively, you could look at writing something set in the future or in a fantasy world where a pandemic is ravaging this, or some other planet.

There are also scenarios where I can see that writing something contemporary, set during this particular time could work as long as the pandemic is more of a background event or the springboard for the story.  Maybe an enemies to lovers type thing where two characters are forced to lockdown together.  I heard from a friend recently about a divorced couple who had to quarantine together in a hotel after returning from visiting their son overseas.  Fertile ground for a romance (or a murder) perhaps?

I think as long as the pandemic and the science around it remain firmly in the background, and you don't try to offer any solution or possible end to what is happening globally right now, you could try and write something. 

The question is whether you want to explore something so devastating while we are still living through it.  I feel that something like this needs time and perspective before we can start writing about it. The full impact of this pandemic is yet to come and it is likely the fallout from it will affect us for many years.

You don't need to rush.  There will be plenty of time to write about 2020 once we're through this and can see how the world has changed as a result of this period.

X O'Abby

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