Michaeline: 2015, The Future is Now

An homage to the Back to the Future franchise, which sent Marty McFly to a different 2015.

Marty McFly found himself in a different 2015 than the one we know, but it’s still entertaining! Happy New Year to all of you! (Many thanks to The Daughter who drew this.)

As a speculative writer, I often muse about how the future is now. Especially this year, when 2015 is the “fantastic future” of the Back to the Future franchise. I’m sure you guys in the US have been deluged with the hits and misses of that speculative future, but I was enchanted by NPR’s segment on the phenomenon of looking back at a story that looks forward and back again. Who knew that the future was going to turn out like this?

I think there are a lot of lessons to be drawn from thinking about the nature of time, history and prediction. Perhaps the most comforting one is that if you write in the future, you can write what you like. As long as it’s good, people won’t care if you are wrong, and if you happen to be right, they’ll be amazed and delighted. 1984 weathered 1984, and I’m sure Back to the Future 2 will not suffer after 2015.

If you are writing a contemporary, write it now, and get it down. The world changes so quickly, and sometimes the real world could completely undo your world. We had some close calls in 2014 – the Scots could have voted for independence in September, and then what would have happened to all our men in kilts? Probably nothing more than some tedious revision. I think 2015 is going to be a good year for North Korean, Cuban and Russian thrillers. Wartime romance (unfortunately) still has many settings that can complicate and twist your plot.

If you are writing a historical, you may think you are safe – and indeed, you are buffered from a lot of twists and turns of time. But those researchers keep researching, and you may find that what we know about your period is a little different from what we used to know about your period. At the end of 2013, who would have thought that Richard III would be found buried under a parking lot? Or that Stonehenge wasn’t just a stand-alone monument dominating the landscape, but part of a rather large complex?

The future (and the present and the past . . . ) are so uncertain that it’s important to just do it now. Who knows what tomorrow will bring? But, don’t be paralyzed by the possibility of change, either. I can issue you an artistic license, if you need to fudge some of the facts. The important thing is to keep progressing.

Whatever you write, it’s a good time to be writing. May your 2015 be full of the right words, and a grand sense of wonder!

6 thoughts on “Michaeline: 2015, The Future is Now

  1. Very fun post, Michaeline, and I love the Marty McFly pic – your daughter is very talented 🙂 .

    I think that whatever kind of story we write – contemporary, historical or fantasy – it will be flavored by the conventions and trends of our present. Even with historicals, the facts may be known, but the way we readers expect them to be spun into a story is the product of now. There’s a fascinating chapter in Beyond Heaving Bosoms by Sarah Wendell and Candy Tan (of smartbitchestrashybooks) that traces the development of the romantic novel over time, trend by trend, from rape-y asshat heroes rescuing helpless, innocent heroines in the 1970s, through the rise of the hero’s POV and today’s kick-ass, sexually experienced heroines who’re capable of saving themselves (and maybe even the hero).

    Wishing everyone a wonderful writing year!

    • This is certainly true. I’ve been reading some older popular literature the past few months, and there’s so much racism. Some of it is, I’m sure, observational, but some of it is so stunningly casual in its dismissiveness of “other” — and it’s coming from authors who were “other” in the publishing industry simply because they were women.

      I don’t want to look ignorant or intolerant to future generations, but since I can’t possibly imagine fully what they are going to think with any sort of accuracy, I am going to try not to worry about it. I do care if I look intolerant to the people I’m writing to now. But if my characters have Reasons . . . gotta go with the characters.

      (-: One struggle in the WIP: is she an innocent but ambitious miss who is hanging around with a fast crowd, or is she a “sadder but wiser” girl who is willing to take responsibility for her actions, and keep moving forward? History shows there were a lot of Bohemians out there that led very unconventional lives, so I’ve got several role models to choose from.

    • LOL, I’m going to be too old for my hoverboard when they finally get into my price range! Ah well. I’m one of those pitiful waifs who think the pedometer on my phone is pretty cool beans (-:. This is not a bad future to be in, at least for me and mine.

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