Writers of fiction, plays, and screenplays should be aware of the rich tradition of story telling that is centred around conspiracy.
The QAnon movement took America by storm, demonstrating again the public’s obsession with tales of conspiracy and intrigue.
Remember, a conspiracy is just a secret plan between two or more people to get things done. Conspiracies are real! You’re probably involved in a few yourself.
What is QAnon?
Online message boards are often anonymous, and the users come up with usernames to identify themselves.
‘Q’ is the username of an anonymous user of a number of popular online message boards – this entity is therefore referred to as ‘QAnon’.
‘Q’ posts ‘drops’ or messages online, in which Q claims to be a close professional associate of Donald Trump, and to have a ‘Q’ level security clearance.
These messages feature lots of cryptic language and codes, which followers of Q try to ‘decode’. Can you see how all this fits so neatly into conspiracy fiction? Think of Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code in which the protagonist must decode messages to find out ‘The Truth.’
The ‘QAnon’ movement is composed of people who believe in every conspiracy imaginable, from 9/11 Truthers, to a pervasive belief that the Democratic Party in the US is run by a ‘cabal’ of satan worshipping child eaters (they really believe this).
No matter what conspiracy a person believes in, they attempt to find ‘proofs’ of it in the ‘drops’ that Q makes.
The problem is that this movement has become a widespread and powerful subsection of the Republican party, and now there are members of the House of Congress like Marjorie Taylor Greene who claim to be followers of the QAnon movement.
The weird thing about QAnon is that the followers sound utterly insane to people who are outside the movement, but there seem to be large numbers of people who actually believe in the nonsense they espouse.
One good takeaway from all this for story writers is that people clearly love a conspiracy tale as much as ever!
History of Conspiracy Fiction, with Examples
There are many many examples of conspiracy tales, which usually take the form of an everyman / everyperson character who discovers a conspiracy that goes to the highest levels of government, or society.
Think again of Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code, in which Robert Langdon unravels a conspiracy that goes right to the heart of the Christian faith. Or Soylent Green in which a down and out detective uncovers a secret that goes to the very highest levels of global government, and affects every person on earth. The X-Files features Fox Mulder investigating paranormal activity in his quest to discover the truth about his sister’s abduction.
Why you Should Write a Conspiracy Story
Tension: Conspiracy stories come with a lot of built in, ready made tension. Tension is very important in stories. The stakes should be high i.e. what stands to be lost if the protagonist loses should be immense.
In conspiracy stories life often hangs in the balance, as conspirators operate above the law in a way that endangers civilians. Sometimes the fate of the world is at stake, for instance if Mulder does not bring the truth about aliens into the light then the safety the world may be at risk.
Mystery / Intrigue: Many good stories, regardless of genre, come with a lot of mystery baked in. Many stories feature an ‘internal plot’ which is often built around the central question ‘who am I?’
The unravelling of this sense of identity provides a mysterious core to the story e.g. “Luke, I am your father.” Conspiracy stories feature an abundance of mystery which can be a real joy for your audience.
Whodunnit: Related to mystery is the fact that the conspiracy story often comes with a crime element, which it can be fun for the audience to try to resolve. For instance a conspiracy story about JFK is going to centre around who the killer was.
Villains: Conspiracy stories often feature compelling and powerful villains, with access to the highest levels of government, and complex and interesting motivations to commit bad acts in the world. It’s also very easy to create a hero who is in opposition to these machinations. Who is your favourite villain in the conspiracy genre?
Urgency and Importance: Paranoia often comes with a feeling of urgency, which is easy to tap into in your reader / audience. Urgency is an important quality of good story telling. The genre features some of the best ‘ticking clocks’ i.e. a situation against which the protagonist must race or else something bad will happen.
Playful Relationship with Reality: The world of conspiracy fiction looks and sounds a lot like ours. In The Da Vinci Code the plot revolves around there being one living descendent of Jesus Christ alive today.
One of the fun things about this genre is that you can use the world as it exists, but tell a story about an alternate reality. Writers like Dan Brown attempt to convince the reader that the conspiracy contained in his works of fiction might actually be true.
Most readers understand the game that is being played, but many readers probably also enjoy the experience of almost being convinced for a few moments.
Togetherness and QAnon: Where we go one, we go all
Where we go one we go all is one of the slogans of the QAnon movement. This feeling of togetherness or mutuality is what draws many people into conspiracy movements. The feeling joins people together into a group with a common purpose or goal.
For instance, proving that 9/11 was an inside job. You can harness this feeling of community that arises around conspiracies to create a following for your story, like Dan Brown does.
Final Thoughts About why you Should write QAnon Inspired Conspiracy Stories
Remember that the Department of Defence recently released footage of UFO’s that they say they cannot identify. So far it has not been possible to rule out alien life and technology as the source of these occurrences.
Remember that conspiracies are happening and being uncovered all the time! Think of the Watergate scandal involving Nixon.
Tap into these paranoid feelings and serve them up on a plate to your audience!
Remember you have also lived through the curious experience of the QAnon phenomenon. Consider immortalising your observations on the experience for the generations to come, and contributing to the ever evolving body of creative work featuring conspiracy theories.