This week: Vaccines and ImmunizationsEdited by: Dawn Embers
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Fantasy Newsletter by Dawn
Considering the issues of health and disease in fantasy and comparing our world to the ones we create. Sometimes the stories reflect similar issues and other times we don't consider possible elements to use within the story.
'Tis the season for many things. Since I work in a pharmacy this has also meant an increase in activity at work as many people come in for different vaccinations. Flu shots started at the beginning of September, plus there is the reformulated shingles vaccine, ones required for schools, travel immunizations and never know when someone might step on a nail and need to avoid tetanus. Whether one agrees with the choice or not, vaccinations are a common aspect of health care. Yet, I will admit that in all of the fantasy worlds I have half-created (since I write at random more than I worldbuild or plot), I haven't thought much about disease or methods to avoid potential outbreaks in any of them. Okay, there is the government control one that focuses on "disease" and quarantines people but that's it out of many fantasy, sci-fi and any other form of speculative fiction world I have created thus far.
Some stories might not have health come up at all, which is okay. We don't want to jam too much into one story because readers don't often care for muddled, jumbled messes nor do many plan to read the hundreds of pages that it would take to include everything into said story. However, one could also include some bits and health issues into their worlds in order to add conflict or to develop the world in general.
This is one aspect that can make things difficult for a character and world with a plethora of options for the writer to develop. One can use similar diseases and health conditions to what we face, depending on how close to our world the story is based upon, since some might be in our world with fantastical elements added. Or one could create diseases to plague the characters/world. The conflict created by medical issues and disease can be big time, world engulfing or it can be as simple as a delay because a character has a cold. Many options are out there for usage when it comes to diseases in any kind of story.
It can be a big conflict or maybe a character is just a little under the weather. This can be the main character, the love interest or even others that come along during the adventure. Maybe it's a disease that degrades the mind/body while increasing a hunger for brains. Or something that spread in secret causing a mutation that led to the humans having superhuman abilities. It can be a help or a major problem, depending on the situation and what you do with the conditions. Aside from the issue of something going wrong on a medical level, there is also a question of prevention.
Aside from the issues of health conditions, we can also get into some of the options that the people of our stories might try to do to avoid illness. If using a world similar to our own, there will probably be situations that might involve a vaccine shot or at least the question of one. However, in other worlds there might be similar and/or different methods of prevention. Magic could develop some interesting options beyond healing after an injury or ailment. Science fiction, of course, will have many different venues and options too. Sci-fi probably has an easier connection to medical interventions since they tend to be science related with technology providing methods and options for any time period used.
Still, in any speculative fiction story, fantasy and other wise, one should maybe at least consider the issues of health and disease prevention. Characters aren't very likely to be in perfect health all of the time and if they are well, is there maybe a preventative action that was taken in order to achieve that? Or you could even have a group or characters in the story who are completely against the magic used for healthcare, that refuse to get vaccinated. Whether immune or not, an options exists that maybe we shouldn't gloss over in every story. I should probably work on that in my own stories too. What about you?
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How do you deal with disease and immunization in your spec-fic story/world?
Last month the topic was planning for a story. Here is the comment sent in over the topic of whether or not one might do prep work before writing.
Comment by Elfin Dragon - poetry fiend
Most of my planning is in my mind. I don't often write down my planning since I do a lot of poetry and short stories. When it comes to my novels I've found that doing a bit of both (planning and no planning) helps me write a better story. I can use Oct Prep to get all my basic ideas on paper and expand them out and use my "no planning" inspiration when I'm just "free writing".
- I'm with you in the mind plotting. Might not get things down on paper but I've thought about the stories a fair amount before getting the words down. Having a mixture of methods is a good approach too.
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