“I didn’t write a blog post today,” I sigh to my husband yesterday, not complaining about anything so much as that the day was continuing in its not-so-great course. Not only did it start when the baby woke me with loud, baleful snuffling indicating he was sick, stuffed up, and having a hard time breathing, but when I went to check on my daughter (who I was sure I’d heard stirring but she hadn’t left her room yet, which was odd) I encountered a horror sick scene which I can sum up with that I had a moment of panic that she might have asphixiated. After a bath, she was much better, but still caused enough subsequent messes I couldn’t handle it and had to call in reinforcements. I’m lucky I’m in a position where Tyler could take a half day and come help me. Luckily, it looks like it was just food poisoning.
Tyler considered what I’d said for a moment, and then with a grin said that you never really see villains who are foiled by stuff like getting really sick. I laughed – of course not. That would be pretty lame, building up this big conflict, and then on the day when the villain is going to execute his plans…he stays home with pneumonia instead and everything’s fine. Something like that could totally work in a comedy, but not your average story.
That said, sickness rarely shows up in stories in any sort of realistic manner at all anyway. You only really see some kind of exotic illness that can only be cured by a crazy McGuffin.
And of course, I don’t believe in “you can’t” nearly so much as I believe in “you shouldn’t” and maybe writing your villain through a sick day could, at the very least, be a fun writing exercise.
Just something to think about.