In light of 911 and the history behind that date, I was thinking about world events and how they impact writers as we plot a story. With all the many different events taking place in the world today, and our ability to get news 24/7, on many different types of devices, getting information about current events for our stories is just a keystroke away.
Certainly what is going on in the world tends to work well in suspense and thrillers. Any books that feature characters in the military or police agencies may mirror what we read in the newspaper. Yet when the author adds actual world events, it makes the story immediate. We can imagine ourselves in the line of fire on a sandy desert somewhere or in a foreign city running for our lives because of certain secret information in our possession. I’ve never been in any kind of dangerous occupation, but I love edge of the seat stories that keep me turning the page to find out how the characters will get through danger and stay alive.
I tend to write stories about characters who live in small towns. How do current events fit in? There is always the possibility of a world weary traveler returning home after working in a refugee camp and now wants to experience peace. A wounded soldier back from deployment. How does he cope with what he’s seen and done? Or perhaps the photojournalist trying to deal with upsetting memories because of a dangerous assignment. A character who has had enough crime in the big city and wants to retreat to simpler life in a small town.
What about the news of a smaller scope? Local or regional news. Not big enough to make front page news, but compelling enough to make a writer wonder, what if, and run with an idea from there. Again, with our access to the internet, there are all kinds of news and special interest stories out there to catch the eye of a writer for use in a future story.
Now, let’s take the current events and look at them through the Christian world view. This gives us another layer of depth for our characters. They have to deal with the world, but what about their spiritual walk? How have these events shaped them? Will the events they’ve experienced determine the decisions they make? Here is our conflict.
The possibilities of adding the pressure of what goes on in our small towns, big cities and worldwide are endless in story creation. Adding current events is the bridge of our imaginary characters to real life. Done well, these events add another dimension to the world the author has created.
So, after having laid my thoughts out, my question is, as a reader, do you like current events in the books you read? Too much invasion of the real world? I’m curious as to what you think.