4.12.13

Techno Killer, Qu'est-ce que c'est? #IWSG

It's the first Wednesday of the month, time for another round of posts for the Insecure Writer's Support Group, founded by Alex J. Cavannaugh. Click on either of those links to see whassup with other insecure writers. The malfunction I'm having this months is...technology.

One of the reasons I chose to set Three Daves in the 1980s was because I didn't want to have to deal with modern technology. So that novel is purposely dated. But my WIP is set in current times, and I'd rather not have it feel out of date for at least a decade or so, but at the rate technology is advancing, I'm afraid the manuscript might become technologically obsolete before I even finish the second draft.

I dealt with this issue in Divine Temptation by minimizing the use of technology and keeping any references very general, but this new one is an office romance, so it's not quite as easy to avoid. I've got the MC using a laptop to pull up spreadsheets and update a PowerPoint presentation, and I wonder...should she be using a tablet? Can you do spreadsheets on a tablet? And will anybody be using PowerPoint in a couple of years? Does anyone use it now? (Please forgive my ignorance---I haven't worked in a real office since the 1990s, and the place I work now is in the land where time stands still.)

And what about texting? I hear talk of this newfangled talk-to-type, so will having my character wear texting gloves be old school in 2015?

Help me techno-soothsayers!    


14 comments:

Chris Fries said...

Maybe it's just me, but I personally don't worry about it that much. So what if the technology in the story anchors it at a certain point in time? I've never read a story and caught a technological reference and thought, "Dang. I was enjoying this story, but now it just seems so five years ago..."

Fiction from hundreds of years ago can have timeless plots because of the way the reader can connect to the characters. It's the same way with all fiction, whether it was written today, five years ago, or fifty years ago, and regardless of how "current" and "modern" its background setting is. I try to focus on the characters -- they're what drives the story.

Jennifer Lane said...

I like what Chris said *points above*. But I also worry about stuff like this. I like to reference music in my manuscripts and my editor tries to reel me in because she doesn't want it to be dated.

I just bought the Microsoft Surface, which is a combined laptop/tablet that comes loaded with Office. So it is possible to do spreadsheets and powerpoint on a tablet, but I'm thinking laptops will be around for a while. Maybe your character could use an ultra-light laptop?

stu said...

Yes, it will end up dated, but there's not a huge amount you can do about it. Write it now as it is and accept that people reading it back in a few years will be amused by the reminder of the past.

Michelle Wallace said...

Oh my word... there's no escaping its power and presence, is there?
No sooner do you master the latest gadgets, then a new one replaces it...
Writer In Transit

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Predicting where technology will go it difficult. Yes, people still use power point. They can use it on their tablets as well.

Cathrina Constantine said...

Writing a historical YA in 1969 was nice because I didn't have to deal with all this new technology. It can be daunting at times.

Liz Blocker said...

LOL! This post made my head spin, and I'm not even trying to figure all of it out like you are! I say don't worry about it too much. People still use laptops and will for a few years at least, so as long as you don't have someone banging away on a monstrous old IBM desktop, you're doing fine. It might end up placing the book at a specific year or two, but there's nothing wrong with that.

Julie Flanders said...

I can't help at all because I am so clueless on this stuff. I enjoyed writing the part of my book that takes place in the 1880s! Now I'm thinking I want to follow your lead and write a 1980s story too. :D

Janie Junebug said...

I know nothing. The Hurricane would know, but I can't ask her. She would break my levees. I think you're better off keeping it as general as possible.

Love,
Janie

Tara Tyler said...

ha ha ha! love your techno problems! my future worlds will be obsolete when the time comes too!

if you are writing now time, use now stuff. no telling wat new gadget will come out next, but smaller, faster, easier is the trend driving inventions... i use powerpoint all the time but others may not. you need advice from a young techie!

L. Diane Wolfe said...

I ran into that with my NA/YA series. How much technology to include? I ended up skipping anything that referenced social sites online.

Michael Di Gesu said...

OOOOoo… a new WIP…. how fun.

I want to hear all about it when I get back to Chicago!

I have dated stuff in my books too, but that can easily be changed if the technology does. Stick with anything "I" … I don't think they'll be changing that symbol anytime soon.

Carrie-Anne said...

One of the reasons I could never do contemporary, aside from late contemporary historical fiction, is because of the potential for a book to become quickly dated. A lot of once-contemporary books now feel more like stories from the Seventies, Eighties, or Nineties instead of stories for all time, because of too many topical references. I'd suggest being judicious with modern references and technology instead of gut-loading them on.

Cherie Colyer said...

We use Powerpoint at my work. I think as long as you keep things general, you'll be okay. But I hear you, technology changes as fast as slang does.