Like most of you, I have been glued to my television for the last few days, watching the wrenching events taking place in Boston, at the marathon and later in and around Cambridge and Watertown. I go about my daily routine and then come back to the TV to see the latest developments and watch the drama play out on my screen like scenes from The Bourne Identity, or another equally improbable movie. It is impacting my life on a day to day basis.
So is the explosion in Waco Texas at the fertilizer plant. I keep thinking about the people living nearby, feeling the blast like an earthquake, shaking their house and their security. I think about the shootings in Newtown Connecticut and Colorado and Hurricane Sandy, and the people I know who were impacted by these events.
And I think of the people in my stories. Every single one of them lives his or her life influenced by the events of the times. I have to remember to place them in real time and think about what was happening in the world when they were living, even if it was far away from them. Even if it only made them anxious and gave them bad dreams about tsunamis or about terror attacks, the world is always with them. Using real events in the world in my stories gives characters new ways to react. It enriches the story, gives readers a way to connect, to say, oh yes, I remember that.
I will go back over my linked short stories and make sure that I have used, whenever I can, the events that were taking place in the world during the time of the story. It's good advice for all fiction writers.