Slight, but slightly too long for a status update

Recently I’ve been exploring, for the first time, some pop and subcultural touchstones of the last couple of decades. It makes me feel a bit like a time traveler. Among other things, I’ve been struck by how much easier it is to create plot obstacles when personal synchronous communication devices aren’t ubiquitous. When your setting is first-world contemporary, you have to work a lot harder to explain why Character In Trouble (Variously Defined) doesn’t just freaking call, text, or IM.

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  • Kip Manley
    January 28, 2010 at 10:15 am

    A poor, cranky semi-misanthrope who hangs with a crowd that doesn’t so much understand such things is one work-around.

    One thing I’ve noticed about about their ubiquity is what it’s done for the infodump–on TV, at least. Easy to have characters yammering expo at each other while separately moving toward other goals: illusion of plot-motion, easy to surprise one or the other with the next scene without mucking them both up, etc.

    Also, given the sub-par nature of Yankee cell signals and broadband, you can always have the network go down at a critical, groan-worthy moment…

  • AlisonG
    January 28, 2010 at 12:40 pm

    I love the way Sara Zarr handled it in “Once Was Lost”: Sam’s parents wouldn’t let her have Internet at home for protective religious reasons. It helped with plotting but it was a revealing detail about Sam and her parents too.

    I skirted the issue by setting my current novel in 1984 :-)