Tried and True

When an author is searching for what to write about, certain touchstones from real life come to mind. What would the reading public be passionate about? At present, some people grumble about stupid anti-vaxxers, while their counterparts take livestock-related remedies advertised on social media. Let’s say you decide the contrarian point of view is more interesting. Your protagonist will at the very least use ivermectin during the course of the novel. 

So far, so good. Becoming steeped in the weird means you’re taking the reader on a new adventure. You can research what ivermectin is, the effect it has on cows, and the reported effects on humans using it as an alternative to a vaccine. This is all stuff the reader doesn’t know. Plus, you are creating a personal story in which the suffering takes place. 

Trouble may arise when you start to consider such factors as milieu. What sort of person would take it? What does that indicate about their environment and the people influencing their choices? Since most of the resistance is occurring in libertarian areas, that indicates such factors as: belief in God and distrust of government. Now you’re venturing into a realm where generalizations can undercut your good intentions. Do you understand how a rural community interacts? 

This is where an author can start to take shortcuts. What is really interesting is imagining you could be that person taking ivermectin and, by extension, people you know are the nexus around that character. So an aunt who in real life does go to church every Sunday becomes the mouthpiece for ordinary stuff like the creation myth and the coming of the apocalypse. The protagonist’s best friend, in that beery tone you know so well, starts spouting off political cant. You’re ignoring the fact that this sort of stuff is so well known that everyone, from both ends of the political spectrum, has read or heard the arguments so many times that eyelids slowly flutter and close.

It is your job to keep all aspects of the adventure fresh. The aunt might start spouting out, but the protagonist’s mother tells her to shut up. She’s sick of that talk. As it turns out, the mother has her own very bizarre take on Christ. The protagonist cuts off the best friend before they can get started. I know that, and it sure is not going to change the investigation into who stole those grenade launchers. You stay in the vanguard on every front. That way the reader will keep on wanting to find out what you’re bringing next.

Exercise: Review the manuscript for any lazy points you slipped into because they came so easily. If it was easy, it should be penciled out in favor of your digging into that point to see if there is a novel viewpoint you hadn’t considered. It takes a lot more time that way, but the reader will also be engaged all the way through.

“Politics: A strife of interests masquerading as a contest of principles. The conduct of public affairs for private advantage.” —Ambrose Bierce

Copyright @ 2021 John Paine. All rights reserved. 

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Copyright © 2020 John Paine. All rights reserved.