The word novel has been taken from writers, or perhaps taken back; it means new and a novel virus is… ‘a virus that has never previously infected humans, or hasn’t infected humans for a long time, it’s likely that almost no one will have immunity, or antibody to protect them against the novel virus.’
But that is the least of our worries as writers. Are you currently writing a novel set in the present? A spy or crime drama, a hero or con man moving in high society; they can’t go to the casino, it’s closed, Las Vegas and Monte Carlo are closed. The fifty storey power tower where your ruthless villain does his wheeling and dealing is empty and no one wants to meet up with him. Perhaps he will lend his extravagant new international exhibition centre to be used as a field hospital; unlikely, he has already fled to self isolate on that remote Pacific island he bought last month; luckily the hundred original occupants had already been ‘relocated.’
Perhaps you were writing about real people, ordinary good people who sit on London Bridges holding up everyday life to plead for the planet to be saved. Now everyday life has been halted in a spectacular fashion they could never have imagined and they are stuck at home wondering what to do next. You can’t write about ordinary bad people either. Fleeing from the police and getting lost in the crowd is off, so is getting on a plane and starting a new life in Brazil; all flights are cancelled and the police catch up with you at the bus station, arresting you merely for being outside, not for your impressive crime record.
What if your genre is modern romance? No one is going to find love with that person at work they hated at first, nor will they fall for the stranger in the bar. There is still on line dating, but if they can’t meet, how will the plot develop?
Perhaps you should start a brand new novel, a novel novel, a virus novel. Your hero is the scientist nobody believed, who reveals biological warfare and a virus stolen from a laboratory. Or closer to home, a cosy mystery; has the best friend really died alone in hospital with the virus, or is that just a cover for their disappearance?
Not to waste a good bad character, take up the plot on that Pacific Island where the villain is planning to use the pandemic to take control of the whole world; bring in your new heroine Jayne Blond.
Don’t forget children’s fiction. Paddington Pangolin; rescued from a wet market by a young woman teaching English as a second language. She smuggles him back to Heathrow on the last flight out and takes him on the Heathrow Express to Paddington Railway Station, where he unfortunately gets lost. More troubles lie in store when he is blamed for starting Corvid 19. Can he find his friend, can she keep him safe?
What are you latest ideas for writing?
My latest novel is set in 2014, which seems like history now, so why not escape to the past…