Hi gang, Craig here once more with another Expansion Pack. This one has to do with setting, but it’s as much a mental setting as a physical one. It’s based upon the stress that changing times bring.
I’ve lived long enough to remember bashing the side of the black & white television to make the signal come in. This probably pales in comparison to some of you who are older than I am, but I’ve seen a lot of change.
Change has always been there, and always will be. It can be looked upon from a couple of perspectives, gaining of something or loss of something. It’s a stressful time, and stress is good for fiction.
Think about the Romans reinventing warfare. Good for some, bad for others. World War II ended with a nuclear blast. Good for some, bad for others. Warfare is easy to see, but there are stress points in everyday life, too.
Paddle wheelers get surpassed by river barges, shipping lines get usurped by airlines. On a smaller scale, Windows 10 and iOS 12. Marriage, divorce, elections, loss of employment, everyone has experienced something that changed their lifestyle completely. Reflect for a moment upon what Amazon has done to the book industry, and the retail industry.
I grew up, and earned my first paychecks, as a pen & ink draftsman. Computers do all that today. If I decide to write about robots taking all our jobs away, I have a place I can pull from to add some depth to my characters. You can, too.
As a speculative author, anything related to an apocalypse is simple enough. The rules of civilized society don’t apply any more. This can also be projected onto antagonists along with your main characters. Pretty easy to understand.
You have the opportunity to use changing times to your advantage. How will we function in a world without crude oil? What happens to society when robots take over all of our farming. How would this change life at the John Deere dealership? What about the migrant workers? How about the college students who are millimeters from an agricultural degree, but have no desire for a job in computers or robotics? What can you project about all the databases that exist today? How might our facial features, thumbprints, and shopping habits be turned against us?
History is easy enough. You’re either with Edison or you’re about to inherit a whale oil empire that made your father rich. Tall ships or ironclads? Chariots or cavalry?
Fantasy can work this way, too. Military history and those changing times can shoehorn right into fantasy. Maybe you want to write about human logging activity from the perspective of the forest dwellers. The fairies aren’t going to be very happy. How will they adapt?
For paranormal stories, maybe the key to ridding the castle of ghosts is to use technology from their era. A main character who is obsessed with electronic gadgets might struggle with this backward reflection. Are vampires affected by solar power? Maybe they can’t function where lightbulbs are powered by the sun.
I often refer to the daydreaming phase of writing. This is before I make my first notes about a story. Changing times are a good place to focus.
Let’s hear from you? Do you think changing times could bring some value to your stories? Have you considered this angle? Maybe you could use it as a peripheral part of your story?