As a writer, it is always important to deal with issues and situations that readers can relate to. The closer you can bring the reader into the story, the stronger it can be. There is however, a fine line between bringing your readers close to current situations and bringing them too close.
This morning, I went through a series of submissions that did just that. While the storylines seemed reasonable and were certainly topics worthy of discussion, the issues would hit just too close to home for the readers. In the end, the publisher would simply not be able to sell the books.
Let me put it this way. Right after 9-11 we had the movies that came out about the flights and the survivors. These movies just didn’t work.
This same issue can be seen in books. Again, while discussing issues such as the economic crisis, date rape, abortion and the like are valid topics, readers are simply going to shy away from books such as that. If they are facing issues like that in their life, why would they want to re-live it again. Yes, there are exceptions to that out there, but those cases are few and far between. We can also see this when it comes to multicultural books. The Mid-East has a wealth of great stories that can be developed, but dealing with political intrigue right now, while interesting, might not be the best place to set your story.
In many ways, finding that timely issue is like baking cookies. While chocolate chip cookies are great right out of the oven, we still have to let them cool down some so we don’t get burned.
Scott C. Eagan