Keep Up, Keep Up!


Moore’s Law says that computing power doubles every two years.

That premise has led to an explosion of technological advances to bring simplicity and convenience to our lives. In the old days when Radio Shack sold it’s first personal computers, the device was boxy and cumbersome. Cell phones were non-existent. One used a land line or payphone. Cameras used film, and sharing pictures with family required an envelope and postage stamps. To keep from getting lost, one went to AAA for a trip planner or carried maps in the car. When away from home, travel guide books explained what sights to see and what restaurants were good and cheap. All this stuff took up storage space.

Now I am amazed: a smart phone, the size of a deck of cards, handles all of those tasks via the Internet, GPS, and any number of applications.

I hear that the next big thing will be a device combining the word processing and spreadsheet capabilities of the laptop computer with the operations of the smart phone. Likely that device will also have an application to monitor my blood pressure, heartbeat and blood sugar levels, too.

Right now my husband’s pacemaker stores what’s happening in his chest in a microchip until, in the middle of the night, his telemetry unit remotely downloads the data from his pacemaker, connects to the land line and sends the information off to a medical office for interpretation. As advanced as that system is, it relies on my husband sleeping in his own bed AND having a land line telephone. In the future, my husband’s smart phone will house the ability to read and send his medical information to his doctor, allowing his condition to be monitored wherever he is, even afloat in the Chesapeake Bay.

How is this relevent to an author? I’ll explain.

On my radio, I enjoy listening to one of my favorite singers Adam Levine of Maroon 5. However, the lyrics of the recent Maroon 5 hit “Payphone” made me laugh out loud when I first heard it.

Payphone, I thought. When was the last time I saw one of those? Come on, Adam. Payphone?

Okay, okay. I realize the song is about an egomaniac loser oblivious to his useless state; the irony of his having to use a payphone is lost on his grey matter. In the song, the device of the payphone serves a purpose.

But as a writer, be aware the reader will also laugh out loud AT YOU if you use old technology, old-style language or anything else that is out-of-date in the story; UNLESS, as in “Payphone,” the “old” serves a purpose.

One helpful technique to spare yourself embarrassment: have a twenty-something read your manuscript and point out its flaws. Correct them before sending the work off to the editor.

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6 responses »

  1. This is great! I’m in the midst of putting a post together about writing for teens. Mine is more about slang – what me and my friends used to habitually say to each other as teens is not what the kids are saying today. Having an actual teen read through your work can be helpful, but either way you’re “dating” your book. Especially with technology. As you said, it’s changing at an incredible rate.

    • One more thought. I smiled when I read your statement about the change in slang from your teenage years. As one gets older, it’s easy to forget how out of touch one can become. Hopefully this little reminder will help, especially those of us who don’t have daily contact with children.

    • Somehow I think you may not have trouble, as I do, in that area. When I read your work on your blog, I never get the sense that anything is dated or out of touch. You have a gift, especially when you are letting the characters (real/fictional) speak from a place of intense feeling, dark or otherwise. It is raw realism and your readers connect with it.

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