Now that I’m over halfway done with the revisions of my draft, I’m starting to think about some of the smaller nuances in the novel that might need some fine-tuning. One of the biggest issues with my story was that the main character needed a way to stay in touch with her old life after she moved away. The only way I could see to accomplish this was by having her reach out to her old friends via technology – texts, e-mails, and so on. The answer seemed simple enough, but when I sat down to start writing those moments I found myself fumbling for a way to write in the use of technology without being clunky or obnoxious.
I’ve seen this done a lot of different ways with a lot of different results. I could just insert something that looks just like an email looks on your computer screen, with e-mail addresses and time stamps and the whole deal. Or I could just have the text of the e-mail in italics. Or I could do a multitude of other things.
Meg Cabot has a few books (Every Boy’s Got One, The Boy Next Door) where she does technology to the extreme. These books are essentially compiled email and/or text exchanges. I enjoy them a lot, but I find myself a little frustrated whenever I read them because I want more. Whenever the characters step away from the their computers and actually interact with each other, Cabot’s readers are left in the dark. Her commitment to telling the entire story via technology-based interaction means that every other form of narrative in her story gets left out. I still love those novels – they’re great beach reads if you’re ever looking for something funny and light – but I’d be lying if I didn’t say they felt like they were missing something.
There are television shows today that are representing technology really well. Sherlock, for example, uses texting in a really brilliant way – it’s both relevant and essential to the story, and only serves to further the narrative. In a totally different genre, The Mindy Project also uses technology in a way that isn’t distracting and adds to the story, and the characters use it in a very realistic way. Replicating that without the visual of a television screen may be impossible, but I think there’s something there.
This week, my question for all of you is a little more complicated. How do you represent the use of technology in your writing? Or, what have you read that integrates technology in a really helpful way? Let me know in the comments below!