We Live Like Kings and That’s Hard to Write About
One hundred years ago, the year was 1923; the Roaring Twenties. People were optimistic about the future, making lots of money and having a blast. Yet, not really. Life was hard, medical care was basic, information was scarce, the stock market was about to crash, and people were not aware of the harm they were causing.
Since 1923, we developed technology that improved our lives, grew as a society and understood our prior mistakes. Now, we have more respect for the people around us, know about the problems in society, and are actively working on improvement. Here are some improvement examples:
I can go to my local supermarket and purchase inexpensive pasta from Italy, tangerines from Mexico, maple syrup from Canada, and water chestnuts from China. If I was in the Eiffel Tower in Paris, I could video chat with my somebody in the Eiffel Tower replica in Vegas. I can use the Wikipedia application on my phone to look up what year Nelson Mandela was born, what movie received the tenth Academy Award, where prairie dogs live, and all about the small English town Kingsbridge. If I get cancer, a broken bone, or an infection, doctors can usually help. An event can happen in front of me, and I can record it with my smartphone. After I post it (with one click), in under an hour, over a billion people can view that video. Our phones even warn us about earthquakes, fires, power outages, and traffic. And the most mind-shattering aspect of these developments is that not one person found this paragraph impressive.
That is a significant problem for writers. Where is the conflict, the struggle, or the dilemma? “Steve was in trouble. He knew nothing about Kingsbridge.” Umm… Steve can easily learn about that topic on his smartphone. Well, Steve could lose it. Umm… He could ask a nearby person; everybody has a smartphone.
Now, hold on. There are still gigantic problems like homelessness. Umm… Everybody knows about it, and many people are working on solutions. In time, this problem will come under control. Want some proof that we can solve an epic problem? The air quality in Los Angeles used to be out of control. Since the ‘30s, people have understood the issue and began solving it. I recall going there in the ‘70s, and my eyes watered. Now, I can spend the day in Los Angeles without issue.
It is a struggle for an author to invent a legitimate conflict. “Sally was watching television, and a robber broke down her door.” Umm… Did she call the police? Did Sally’s wireless security cameras capture the incident? Did her insurance company pay for the damages? Did Sally take a picture of the robber, post it, and have thousands of people look at the image?
Now, conflict requires precise circumstances to get around society’s advances. Readers know about present technology, what they can buy, what is possible, facts, statistics, geography, history, news, biology, physics, literature, fiction, and current events. Readers do not accept oversights, mistakes, racism, sexism, bad morals, copying existing work (intentional or not), lazy writing, or uncompelling concepts.
Plus, we have imagined so many things. How about a Star Trek teleporter? “Scotty pressed the button and beamed Kirk from the planet to his starship.” That sentence is easy to understand, and the impossible science does not mystify anybody.
Besides the advances, people get exposed to so much. I remember in the ‘70s seeing a man wearing pink fingernail polish. That was so outrageous! But now? 3.7 MILLION videos get uploaded to YouTube and 34 MILLION to TikTok daily. As a result, every possible aspect, view, alteration, outfit, personality, sexuality, death, life, setting, and location of the human body has been thoroughly explored, exploited, created, and destroyed. This wealth of explored situations makes creating something that surprises anybody extremely difficult. He wore fingernail polish AND earrings? Yeah, no.
These advances have introduced an endless number of pitfalls. “Stan got lost.” Today, nobody can get lost. The author must explain that Stan forgot his smartphone, there were no road signs, nobody was around, and there were no recognizable landmarks. “Tara arrived in Germany and could not ask for help.” Wrong! Many people in Germany speak English, and a basic internet search would educate the author. Plus, nearly all phones now come with a language transaction application.
This society of kings has an additional problem for writers. Amazon releases over 1.4 MILLION self-published books through its Kindle Direct Publishing every year. While good for readers, I must compete with this vast sea of books.
Yet, living like a king is not all bad. Our advances make it easier to publish, get the word out, and connect with people. In fact, I’m doing that right now.

You’re the best -Bill
November 29, 2023
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