Include or Not?

Will Covid-19 show up in your fiction writing? Writer Lynne Fisher posed that question in a comment on my last post. She touches on it briefly in her blog, which you should check out. She’s a good and thoughtful writer.

I hadn’t even considered the question. I know there are poems out on the subject, and I assume there will be countless memoirs. What about novels? I pondered a while. If we want our fiction to be realistic, then, yes, we should probably include it. But I don’t want to read about the pandemic. I decided it won’t appear in my writing, at least not for a while. Maybe 5 or 10 years from now, but not right now.


That made me curious about what was written after the 1918 flu pandemic. I didn’t look for memoirs or factual accounts, I wanted stories with the pandemic as a backdrop. Goodreads lists 85 books on the subject. I looked at a handful, all of which were written in the last 20 years.

An article in Smithsonian Magazine talks about earlier works. It highlights a 1922 novel by Willa Cather called One of Ours as the first major novelist to include the pandemic in fiction. There are a host of other books, too.

Pandemics, epidemics, and viruses have been featured in multiple books and movies, many of them science fiction. We can go back further, and look at plagues in the bible.

I draw on real life to create my stories. Some aspect of our current world may appear in my upcoming work, perhaps an aspect of isolation or socialization, maybe fear or illness, but not the virus itself.

Will the Coronavirus pandemic of 2020 be a part of your fiction? Would you read a novel with the Coronavirus as its backdrop?



6 Responses to Include or Not?

  1. I have a series that I planned to run from Dec. 2017 to Dec. 2020. So I think I will have to mention the virus. But the point of my series is not to be a record of contemporary times. I was aiming for more universal themes. That may mean shifting my timeline back a few years. The problem with putting in the virus is that it will definitely date a novel. That may be good or bad depending on the nature of the story.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Good point. Like a character using a payphone. My WIP has a character who travels extensively and internationally. Her lifestyle would be unlikely right now. My story is also contemporary, and I’m choosing to ignore the virus. We’ll see how the story progresses.


  2. Not in my stories, too many stressful memories. Oddly, my bad memories aren’t about the virus itself but about the angry political reactions (on both sides).

    Liked by 1 person

  3. lynnefisher says:

    Thanks for the mention, Theresa. The issue still bugs me (accidental pun) but I’ve decided to leave it alone in my current WIP. If there is a chance just to give it a nod as a hypothetical scenario that hasn’t happened yet, I’ll take it, but that’s all :>)

    Liked by 1 person

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