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  1. #1
    Administrator Wickett's Avatar
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    How soon can one write fantasy about real life tragedies?

    I was on the NY Times earlier and noticed a very interesting read. The question that was posed, was how soon is too soon for someone to take a real life tragedy and turn it into a science fiction story? Documenting a real life event happens almost instantly and isn't frowned upon, but writing a sci-fi novel with the twin towers being taken down year after the incident might not have been taken so well.

    I could easily see something like this backfiring on the author. Either they're cheap and can't come up with their own plot, or they're considering cold hearted for taking such an event so lightly. What do you guys think about this? How long should an author wait before taking the real world to the books?



  2. #2
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    That is a very convoluted question, might even call it leading and I'm surprised no on has bit yet.

    I don't believe that there is any hard and fast rule and with the glacial qualities of getting printed it would be a few more years before anything like that would end up being printed. I think the bigger issue is that almost all of the Literary Agents in America have ties with New York and the would not even consider getting within ten feet of something like that.

    The other problem is in the content. Since you put it in the Sci-Fi section I guess that is where you wanted it to go. I could see some crass superhero guy attempting to use it as a way to killing off a protagonist he was tired of. Other than that I can think of six or eight places it could be used as back story. In fact the best story line might be something like Continuum on the SyFy channel. As far as atrue story line there isn't one there, just tragedy.

  3. #3
    Senior Member John Oberon's Avatar
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    I'm of the opinion that the public owns an incredibly short memory for all but the grossest sins. Schwarzenegger was all set to release a movie that included aircraft crashing into a building when 9/11 happened, but postponed its release because they thought it would be insensitive. Apparently, just a few months was enough time to fill the sensitivity quota.

  4. #4
    Rogue Mutt
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    I remember the day after the Colorado massacre during "The Dark Knight Rises" I went to watch that movie and in the preview for "Gangster Squad" they showed the cops shooting up a movie theater. I didn't run screaming but I did squirm uncomfortably in my seat. They postponed the release of the movie and cut that scene out afterwards.

    Anyway, I suppose it would depend on if you're just including it in there to exploit the tragedy or if it's germane to the story. In my novel "Where You Belong" I didn't set out to include anything about 9/11 but then I realized that a main character was living in the city then, so it would be remiss of me not to mention it at all. And it actually helped move the plot along between a couple of characters, so that was a good thing.

  5. #5
    Administrator Wickett's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Craig View Post
    That is a very convoluted question, might even call it leading and I'm surprised no on has bit yet.
    It's a legitimate question that the answer varies with depending on the writer and the incident. It's a good question to ask.

    I like Mutt's stance on this quite a lot. I think using a real life tragedy can be a bit tacky and uncomfortable, but it is life, and to incorporate a real life experience in the background to support and encourage character growth (as an example), is very cool.

  6. #6
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    I would definitely say it's all about how it's handled. The gravity of the tragedy needs to be present in the story, it cannot diminish how terrible the tragedy was. Second of all, it can't portray the people who caused said tragedy as heroes. In your "Twin Towers" example it couldn't portray the terrorists who flew the planes into the towers as the good guys in the story, that's just horrible. Yeah, it's all about how it's handled. I think having some kind of wizard in the IDF in Israel right now, fighting in the conflict in Gaza, could be interesting if handled well. The thing is, though, you would certainly need to get across the very real and tragic nature of the real-life events.

  7. #7
    Administrator Wickett's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nico View Post
    I would definitely say it's all about how it's handled. The gravity of the tragedy needs to be present in the story, it cannot diminish how terrible the tragedy was. Second of all, it can't portray the people who caused said tragedy as heroes. In your "Twin Towers" example it couldn't portray the terrorists who flew the planes into the towers as the good guys in the story, that's just horrible. Yeah, it's all about how it's handled. I think having some kind of wizard in the IDF in Israel right now, fighting in the conflict in Gaza, could be interesting if handled well. The thing is, though, you would certainly need to get across the very real and tragic nature of the real-life events.
    Yeah I can't see anyone portraying the terrorists of 9/11 as heroes in their book. Not many people would buy it.

  8. #8
    Member K.S. Crooks's Avatar
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    The various versions of the television show Law and Order have always taken created stories based on events in the news. Dick Wolf, the creator of the show, said he can never run out of ideas for episodes because his source is the New York Times. Some events need more care, as they involve many people or sensitive subjects such as school mass shootings. But also consider that people should not get angry about someone making a story about the event if they are not willing to do something to prevent these in real life. Fictional stories are made about WWII, slavery, and other more lasting events all the time. Just be able to explain your subject choice if someone asks. Feel free to write what you want, especially since by the time your story is written, edited and published, some other tragic event has happened to replace yours in the public consciousness.

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