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Is it too soon to write a story about a recent tradgedy? : Tips and Advice • Writing Forum | WritersDigest.com

Is it too soon to write a story about a recent tradgedy?

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RJEN
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Is it too soon to write a story about a recent tradgedy?

Postby RJEN » Thu Apr 28, 2016 8:58 am

I don't want to go into too much detail about the plot, but I am wanting to write a novel about a survivor of a tragedy that happened a few months ago that saw a lot of people lose their lives. I have a moving plot in store but I'm not sure what sort of reception it would get.

I know a lot of authors write stories about real life disasters. but should you wait few years after until you write one?

The attacks that the book is based on are very raw at the moment and I don't know if I should go ahead and write it.


could anyone give me some advice?

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shadowwalker
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Re: Is it too soon to write a story about a recent tradgedy?

Postby shadowwalker » Thu Apr 28, 2016 9:57 am

The time between starting a story and completion can be months - particularly when you factor in editing/revising/rewriting, and the publishing process (whether trade or self). On the other hand, often books come out very quickly after a major event because people are looking for them. In other words, I wouldn't worry about it. Just write a good story. ;)
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khanson
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Re: Is it too soon to write a story about a recent tradgedy?

Postby khanson » Thu May 26, 2016 12:01 am

I don't see a problem with this if the story is written in a tasteful manner. Just do your research to keep the story grounded and handle the topic with the seriousness that it deserves. Done well, I could see this being a powerful experience for the reader.
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James A. Ritchie
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Re: Is it too soon to write a story about a recent tradgedy?

Postby James A. Ritchie » Thu May 26, 2016 4:46 pm

If it's fiction, you don't need to be so exact that everyone knows instantly what you're writing about. It's never too soon, but people did live through the event, and even those who died have families who are still alive, so be careful what you write.

The main thing is that you have to be accurate about the events, about the people who died, about those who lived, and about whatever the cause was. This means extensive research, and it means doing interviews. Otherwise, you won't get it right, and you'll be seen as taking advantage of a tragedy for your own gain.

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cynicalwanderer
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Re: Is it too soon to write a story about a recent tradgedy?

Postby cynicalwanderer » Fri May 27, 2016 3:11 am

So reading between the lines, I'm guessing this story is to be about one of the terrorist attacks in Paris, Brussels, or Egypt. As James said, research is going to be crucial if you're approaching that subject. There may well even be privacy law considerations if you're referencing real people and places.

There's no right or wrong answer as to when is "too soon" to tackle these subjects, however my gut feeling would be that if you're doing it as a non-fiction journalistic piece, then that's within the scope of meaningful reporting that has merit; whereas if you're writing fiction loosely based on the facts, then you may well get called out by some critics for insensitive profiteering.
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Re: Is it too soon to write a story about a recent tradgedy?

Postby JohnatWrM » Mon May 30, 2016 4:29 am

In trauma studies and psychoanalysis there's something known as a latency period - basically the time after an event where people are still grieving, mourning, in shock etc. It's the "too soon" period. But this is not a set time and is different for everyone. So if you're ready to write it, write it. Providing that everything goes brilliantly, the novel won't be published for a good while anyway. Which means by the time it comes out, the latency period will most likely have ended for most people.

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pls
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Re: Is it too soon to write a story about a recent tradgedy?

Postby pls » Mon May 30, 2016 9:34 am

Write it. Consider that it could be months before the piece is published, even if you're self-publishing.
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Re: Is it too soon to write a story about a recent tradgedy?

Postby Shascorp » Wed Jun 08, 2016 10:43 am

I agree you should go ahead. My only caveat is that you make sure your research is solid so you can make strategic fictional departure from the actual events. I'm a journalist and former reporter/field producer. It's not above me to read or watch a fictional depiction of an event and fact-check to see how well the author wove their tale within a factual context. Spin it wisely.


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