Stories in the Age of Covid


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Thread: Stories in the Age of Covid

  1. #1

    Stories in the Age of Covid

    *Not a discussion regarding Coronavirus itself nor any of its politics. Srsly.*

    Just wrapping up a draft of a new novel. It is mostly set in a present day American office and while it's not *about* office culture it has some satirical elements of that.

    Only when completing it did I realize that I had completely overlooked the fact that I had not incorporated anything relating to the new normal as far as coronavirus. Besides the fact the office is clearly open, there is no social distancing, it's hundreds of people at a desk and otherwise mingling like it's 2019. They go to bars, to restaurants, etc. It's the 'normal' world. Or the 'world that was'.

    I'm not interested in incorporating Covid stuff at all, I find it dull and depressing and I'm sure there's a thousand books being written by now about pandemics. But I AM interested in keeping a contemporary setting vividly relatable. I want something, at least something that is not set in the past, to connect with a reader, to mirror 'real life'. I think up until now I've largely ignored Coronavirus because (1) It seems highly reactionary to include something that's only existed for a few months and (2) I (and most people, I think?) have kind of assumed this isn't going to be around for long enough to fundamentally and permanently change the landscape.

    But, being that it increasingly appears that Coronavirus related measures, if not the disease itself, will be around for a long term, I'm sort of wondering if that's a mistake? If we are going to be social distancing for say the next one, two, ten, one hundred years, I assume things like offices will be adapting to that (I know some that already are in the process) and that those adaptions will be pretty permanent and so this is going to have an enduring effect on stuff. Enough that maybe the 'traditional workplace' really is gone forever, along with 'traditional' restaurants, bars, brothels, whatever.

    So, I guess the question is, do you think it's time yet to start to think about this stuff across not just certain stories but pretty much all of them? For instance, is the idea of a modern romance novel that consists of (rational) people just hooking up casually going to be seen as something more far fetched than in the past? At what point should we accept the current 'situation' as being somewhat permanent in terms of storytelling and start to reevaluate the way we think of the world through writing?

  2. #2
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    I find the romance thing interesting and funny. When it comes to a 'roll in the hay' any disease in the past even if fatal has never stopped two or more people getting all hot and sweaty.

    Suppose it goes like this...........David couldn't contain the uncomfortable bulge in his tight trousers anymore. He looked at the social distancing sign above Sarahs head and then thought........................... .........Oh f**k it......tomorrows another day.
    Last edited by Biro; July 1st, 2020 at 09:55 AM.

  3. #3
    I've been finding myself more interested in writing SF/F these days, and I think a lot of that impetus is coming from not wanting to wrestle with the problem you describe. So... I have no answer! Only sympathy.

  4. #4
    Quote Originally Posted by Bayview View Post
    I've been finding myself more interested in writing SF/F these days, and I think a lot of that impetus is coming from not wanting to wrestle with the problem you describe. So... I have no answer! Only sympathy.
    Thanks but not so much needing sympathy just yet! I just wonder whether, if the real world continues to be so inhospitable to most form of social interaction between strangers, which seems to be likely, we will enter a situation where almost every story will either need to be speculative or historical at least with regard to setting?

    Like, I'm still reading new stories that include scenes at parties, weddings, etc. and it's like...how long before people lose a sense of what these things actually are to the point they will need to be described less like an everyday aspect of life and more like a medieval joust or Roman bathhouse or something else similarly disassociated from "real life".

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    Quote Originally Posted by luckyscars View Post
    Thanks but not so much needing sympathy just yet! I just wonder whether, if the real world continues to be so inhospitable to most form of social interaction between strangers, which seems to be likely, we will enter a situation where almost every story will either need to be speculative or historical at least with regard to setting?

    Like, I'm still reading new stories that include scenes at parties, weddings, etc. and it's like...how long before people lose a sense of what these things actually are to the point they will need to be described less like an everyday aspect of life and more like a medieval joust or Roman bathhouse or something else similarly disassociated from "real life".
    Back in the mid 1980's there was a lot of stuff going on about the new disease which is going to kill a lot of us and our loved ones. Big names like John Hurt even made scary videos on the same to try and warn people of the impending doom before us and we must wear protection. At this time they weren't 100% if by only swapping bodily fluids was the only way of transmission.

    In an interview the camera and microphone turned to Billy Connolly who laughed at all the others views and said........."No matter what you say to people. You wont stop them having sex".

    Basically that is it in a nutshell.

    I will add where I am it is very hard to get into a hotel now after re-opening this week without being a guest there and registering and filling out a questionnaire.

    I also know someone who was going for a 'meet' this weekend in a hotel until I told him the hotel requirements.

    'Real life'.

    Maybe 'real life' isnt what people want to read about?
    Last edited by Biro; July 1st, 2020 at 12:33 PM.

  6. #6
    I wouldn't let it stop you from writing you want to write and what you thinks work best for your novel, personally. This isn't going to be around forever and importantly we as consumers also won't want to only consume things about the 'new normal'.

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by Biro View Post
    Back in the mid 1980's there was a lot of stuff going on about the new disease which is going to kill a lot of us and our loved ones. Big names like John Hurt even made scary videos on the same to try and warn people of the impending doom before us and we must wear protection. At this time they weren't 100% if by only swapping bodily fluids was the only way of transmission.
    People are still having sex, sure, but at least in my genre, most sex scenes include mention of a condom. It's not a complete revolution of human behaviour, but it's an extra detail that didn't used to be there.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bayview View Post
    People are still having sex, sure, but at least in my genre, most sex scenes include mention of a condom. It's not a complete revolution of human behaviour, but it's an extra detail that didn't used to be there.
    I understand exactly what you say Bayview and I cant really talk of anywhere but where I live and read the news. But the days of sex with mostly condoms are over according to 'news reports'. This is because there is a surge in over 50's and 60's getting sexually transmitted diseases.

    I suppose they just follow what the younger folk do all be it a few years later and swinging and casual sex via the internet is now a pastime of the wrinklies and coffin dodgers as well it seems.

    https://www.independent.co.uk/life-s...-a7463861.html

    So real life is real life and across the board.


    Like I said earlier perhaps people do not want to read about real life?

    On an after thought do you have to write in each story about Donald fumbling around trying to undo a condom packet?
    Last edited by Biro; July 1st, 2020 at 04:07 PM.

  9. #9
    That is a really good question! Will people crave to escape this new normal and read about the gold old days when we were free to do as we pleased? Or will there be a sudden demand for current stories that incorporate the new normal?

    If it were me, and I was that far in, I would lean towards adding something that indicates the timeframe. Like at the end they went out for new years eve and looked up just in time to see the 2020 flashing in neon. I mean that's pretty obvious...lol...but you know what I mean.

    After that, perhaps start a new story or even a sequel that begins in January 2020. What a great time to set a story! You've even got me inspired now....
    Sometimes in the waves of change we find our new direction...
    - unknown

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Taylor View Post
    That is a really good question! Will people crave to escape this new normal and read about the gold old days when we were free to do as we pleased? Or will there be a sudden demand for current stories that incorporate the new normal?

    If it were me, and I was that far in, I would lean towards adding something that indicates the timeframe. Like at the end they went out for new years eve and looked up just in time to see the 2020 flashing in neon. I mean that's pretty obvious...lol...but you know what I mean.

    After that, perhaps start a new story or even a sequel that begins in January 2020. What a great time to set a story! You've even got me inspired now....
    How about that the compulsory vaccine has the side effect of turning women into raving nymphomaniacs and the men into impotent wimps. Might be interesting how that one works out.

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