The Devil Is In The Details

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Summer Storms. A coming of age story. One month in the life of a young man. First love, family secrets and growing up.

Story themes may be universal, but the Devil is in the Details.

Originally this story was set in the Canadian Prairies, July 2016; the year Pokémon Go was first launched. I wanted to relocate it to 2018. I didn’t have a reason, I just felt that 2016 seemed a long time ago. The weather in 2018 was consistent to 2016, Pokémon Go is alive and well; prairie life has not changed all that much.

But here’s a small but important detail. July 1, 2016 is a Friday. July 1, 2018 is a Sunday. Since my story follows each day of the month, Sunday brunches are now happening on Wednesdays. That just didn’t work, so we are back to 2016.

When you change the time or era, you create an entirely different story.

It would be exhausting to put this story in 2020. July 2020 looked very different from July 2016. Aside from the fact that July 1 is a Wednesday, I would have to rewrite every character, every scene, every interaction. People wear masks, they don’t hug, big family birthday parties are a no-no (And I have two in my story.) Covid-19 has changed the landscape of our entire world. Anyone who sets their story in 2020 will have to be very, very careful.

What if I wanted to set the story pre-1980? No one had cell phones. In fact, 30 years ago, my husband was the proud owner of the second cell phone in Manitoba. It was a big white brick, that weighed a least a pound. It came with a battery pack that was the size of a 2-slice toaster. No texting, no cameras. OMG! My characters would never survive in that world. (Shocked face emoji).

Let’s go farther back to the 1970s. The ME Decade. Even worse! Rotary dial phones, on the wall, in the kitchen. Your mom washing dishes and your dad watching Columbo, while you whisper-argue with your soon to be ex-boyfriend.

My main characters and their cell phones are like thunder and lightning. One would not exist without the other. I would wear out my delete and backspace keys to rewrite my story eliminating texting and selfies.

What if I were to take them back to 1901? They would have to know how to hitch up a team of horses to a wagon or carriage. My characters are very mobile. They drive or bus everywhere.  It would take them days, DAYS, to travel the 800 miles from their little village of North Creek to “the city”. Travel arrangements would have to be rethought.

How would they inform anyone of their impending arrival? We have now circled back to the telephone conundrum. There was only 235 miles of long-distance lines, strung from pole to pole, in Manitoba in 1901. My characters would be relying on horse drawn buggies and snail mail.

My story is definitely pre-pandemic. If I want to follow the baby-boomers into the 1980s, then I cannot have someone answer their cell phone on the dance floor of the local discotheque. After all, Studio 54 closed in 1980. I certainly can’t have my characters living in 1900, because they don’t know how to ride a horse or properly address a letter.

July 1, 2022 is a Friday. Who knows what the world will look like by then?

Brenda Rech has a loving husband, two beautiful daughters, two dogs, three cats, a couple of birds and a turtle named Chew. Her flower gardens are forever at the beginner stages, as she would rather hike, canoe or snowshoe with my husband (and fellow empty nester). Her favorite breakfast is crispy bacon and strawberry jam on white toast.

Writing short fiction and working on her first novel. Brenda is a loyal “Word Nerd.”  She has completed the self-directed course DIY MFA 101 run by the awesome Gabriela Pereira and her team and is now working through P2P (Pixels to Platform) for the third time.

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