Thursday, February 27, 2014

Does Current Events Inspire Fiction?

Trolling the news lately has been found lacking of late. Hard to be inspired by Obamacare and the lackluster performance of our government. Global warming and the polar vortex has some possibilities for story ideas. The Winter Olympics this year is a case in point. Every night we were warned by the news outlets about a possible terrorist threat. It is the grist for a fantastic novel, but so far nothing has happened. I wonder how many Americans avoided attending out of fear. How many athletes spent sleepless nights wondering when and if an attack would come? Clearly the threat of an attack had a profound effect and the terrorists are probably jubilant.
I have to admit. I’m a news junkie. I need my daily fix and would undoubtably go through some sort of remission if I were marooned on a deserted island. Since becoming a writer, I’ve frequently used current events to inspire me. I think splicing in something that really happened into a story can give it more realism, and sets the timeline. It also helps if the newsworthy item is a hot topic and therefore relevant and interesting. Terrorism and new scientific developments are hot topics in the Action/Adventure genre. The Internet has opened up a cornucopia for authors as a resourse. I’m writing about Somali Pirates at the moment. I know much more than I ever did after reading news reports and the like. I’m glad we live in a time where we don’t have to travel to far off and to decidedly hazardous locals in order to immerse ourselves into a topic, and be seen as an expert on the subject. At the same time, an author should choose carefully the current event. Unless new blood is injected into the story in the form of a fresh slant, it may come off as merely rehashing old news, that is, after changing the names to protect the innocent. I don’t read many science fiction books. Just a preference. At the same time I like to watch sci-fi movies and TV shows. I love the fact that many things we take for granted, originaly came from the imagination of writers. Space travel of course, submarines, cell phones, computers, Internet, GPS, Voice activated devices, robots. And now we hear of cars that drive themselves and have crash avoidance abilities. Airplanes have been using auto pilot for years. Pilots have forgotten how to manually fly passenger jets. We have a remote controlled robot roaming Mars and a spaceship has traveled outside our universe. Some day we may travel at warp speeds. We have weaponized drones deployed in the mddle east. All of these far fetched ideas were first proposed in science fiction novels and films. CAT scans and MRI machines look similar to the medical bays onboard the Star Trek Enterprise. I live up in the mountains, and the small hospital I go to has a telesite robot connected to a live doctor in LA. It seems so strange to sit in front of a robot and tell him my symptoms and get a remote diagnosis. Before long they might develope tricorders, like on Star Trek. Imagine what the world would be like if we have flying cars, transporters and time machines. I never thought I’d see the day when I could make a live face to face telephone call to my son in Afganistan. It bogels the imagination of us old timers who were around before TV. 


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  2. Really good post. Loved it and I do think fiction writers do get influenced by world events and what is played on TV. Hard not to write about something we know. Plus, it's hard to get away from the news. It's a good thing. There are a lot of "What if's" turning a real story into fiction. So much room for some fun stuff.

    I like the you wrote that. :-)

    1. Thanks Brenda. It's like they say, "I couldn't have made that up" in regards to real life situations.

  3. pretty nice blog, following :)