Saturday, February 20, 2021

The Role if Any of the Coronavirus Pandemic in Today's Novels



by Linda Thorne

I’ve read many articles claiming the 1918 pandemic did not have a major impact on the written word despite its immense human and economic toll. I’m wondering if this will be the case with our pandemic. Will it make a mark in American literature or appear as the backdrop in novels set during its timeframe?

When this pandemic started, my husband and I watched old science fiction movies about pandemics, some reruns, others for the first time. We found these interesting because of the ability to relate to the similarities of our own crisis. I have read that others rushed to pandemic fiction books and movies for the same reason. 

But what about writing fiction now if your story is set in today’s world? The novels I have read over the past few months, even though up to date, do not mention the pandemic. There are no germs, no masks, people do not fear crowds, socializing. For those I've read written by author friends, I’ve asked the question. Some said their book was already written prior to the pandemic and they didn’t want to change it. Others admitted they started and finished their novel after the pandemic began but were too sick of it to include in their story. Others have unfinished manuscripts set in current time, and confess they are ignoring the pandemic. If you’ve seen novels that include it, I’d be interested to know.

What do you think? Has the pandemic created a hurdle that needs addressed when writing modern-day fiction?



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10 comments:

Morgan Mandel said...

When I published FOUND AT THE POUND, A Senior Romance Featuring 2 Dog Lovers, on Feb 5, I purposely did not include one word about the pandemic. I don't like reading any reminders of what's going on and many others read fiction to escape the aggravations of the real world.

Marilyn Meredith a.k.a. F. M. Meredith said...

My latest Rocky Bluff P.D.,NOT AS WE KNEW IT, has the virus in it. Since the series is in real-time, I felt I couldn't avoid it, plus I had fun writing it and how each of my characters are affected by what's going on. Got lots of good information from my police officer grandson--as well as other officers i know. On the other hand, writing another Deputy Tempe Crabtree mystery and ignoring the plague.And by the way, those who've read NOT AS WE KNEW IT, liked it.

authorlindathorne said...

Thank you Morgan and Marilyn for the information. We've got one of you ignoring it and one successfully using it in one book, but choosing to leave it out in another. Interesting.

Saralyn said...

Michael Connelly mentions it in his most recent novel, and I’m sure we will see more and more pandemic references as time goes on. One of the problems is reframing stories to include masks and social distancing, when these inhibit action and conflict. It doesn’t make for an exciting novel to show a main character staying at home and folding laundry.

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Maggie King said...

I’ve found very little fiction that deals with the 1918 pandemic. As for this one, most authors are advised not to include it. I think this is a mistake. Some say it will make the story dated. Well, any story gets dated just because it’s written in a certain time period. I’ve been working on my current WIP since way before the pandemic, so aim not going to include it. But future stories? Why not?

Patricia Gligor's Writers Forum said...

I decided early on in the pandemic that I would NOT include it in my books and, honestly, I don't want to read about it either. Maybe down the road when all of this is way behind us. Maybe. But definitely not NOW.

I believe fiction should be realistic but unless a writer is using actual 2020 dates in their novel, why mention it? It's depressing enough to live it. I want the fiction I read and write to lift me up, not drag me down.

authorlindathorne said...

Thank you all for the newer comments. These are very interesting. Yes, I'm glad my book and 2nd one if I ever finish it are set years before the pandemic, so I don't have to worry about it like one commenter. I'm interested in the comment of Michael Connelly mentioning it in a recent book. He's huge, but chose to do it. It really could put big barriers into the story that need to be resolved. Thanks for you comments.

Morgan Mandel said...

Off topic here, but thanks, Linda for your very nice review of FOUND AT THE POUND. It's much appreciated.

authorlindathorne said...

You are welcome, Morgan. I did get into the character (and the doggies).