Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Unintended Consequences

You know the problem with a really interesting premise? It's always has logical results you didn't plan for, which you realize in media res and have to go back and account for.

In the current WIP, a country was afflicted by a plague about 18 years ago which was virulently deadly to people in the prime of life. This was bad enough to make the age cohort to which a person belongs the most noticeable trait that everyone pays attention to - people between the ages of 40 and 60 attract particular attention as they belong to the "missing generation."

But this means that the "missing generation" is aging out of its peak fertility period, so there should also be either a corresponding shortage of people under 18 or a lot of pressure on the age cohort that came into its prime during those years to produce large families.

Also, age-disparate marriages as people widowed during the plague look for healthy new spouses, both to replace missing heirs and to help raise existing ones; so a fair number of people will have been raised by parents/grandparents/guardians from two different age cohorts.

Also, immigration, as people from countries unaffected by the plague rush to fill the gap.

Which means MOAR WORLDBUILDING and an emphasis on which details about a character to present up-front - the POV character will place everyone he meets on the age spectrum first, plus making note of accents and physical characteristics that might indicate someone who is an immigrant rather than a native; and the clues by which he deduces relationships will be different from the ones the reader is used to. Pelin is unlikely to see two people twenty years apart in age behaving affectionately toward each other and assume that they are parent and child.

Plus my POV character has a certain amount of PTSD and moreover so does everyone else in the country...

Fortunately working out fiddly details and making charts and graphs and timelines does provide mental space in which to let your unconscious work on the actual story.

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