I offer Fresh Fruit Theory.
Invariably, the world is going to be deluged with COVID stories, novels, and plot themes for the next few years. I even published a short story based on that very subject. The plots will be wildly varied in their approaches, but they will ultimately fall into two categories: Those that leave a lasting impression and those that vanish without much notice. The ones that last might not be well-written stories, and might very well have their flaws, but they have a durable quality to them. The others that fade away are, in fact, fresh fruit.
It might sound odd to compare something as tasty and nourishing as fruit to something as negative as a story with no value, but bear with me. We have all had that experience of buying, say, the perfect bunch of bananas, then watching half of them turn brown at home because we didn't eat them fast enough. The pears we bought looked great in the store, but after three days at home they've turned for the worst. As they say, today's fresh fruit was green yesterday and will be spoiled tomorrow. Stories can be just the same if we are not careful.
For a story to last longer than that bunch of bananas or bag of pears, it needs something about it that resonates beyond the simple boundaries of the subject. A story about COVID needs to discuss something more than the virus - a statement about the human condition, a warning about social responsibility, something that future generations will read and take in on a personal level. Otherwise, well, prepare for something that has a limited shelf life.
It's also worth noting that with the lag time of the writing cycle, if you have a great idea about a Life-During-COVID story and start writing it now, you will be halfway done when other COVID stories start coming out. To stand out, yours will already need to have that extra flavor, or else it will get lost in the wave of pandemic stories rushing toward the printing presses.
If novels like Fahrenheit 451 or 1984 stayed within their subject (topics that really resonated at the time), they would not have survived for generations to come, and perished like so much fresh fruit. Rather, they told us about ourselves as well, and those books stayed on the shelves for a while (I still have my copies).
And now, for some reason, I have the urge to start writing, and to make a smoothie before the last bananas spoil.
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