Friday, October 3, 2014

Jane Lovering: Problems with technology!

Today we welcome Jane Lovering who reminds us how we can’t live without technology – or can we?

Have you tried recently re-reading one of those ‘Old Skool’ thrillers that used to be so popular?  Heroine trapped in a deserted warehouse, hero searching fruitlessly for her through the streets, while the villain bears down on her location hell-bent on murder and mayhem?  And have you too thought ‘why doesn’t she just phone the police?’
Jane Lovering

The advent of the mobile phone has dealt a bit of death-knell to ‘heroine in peril’ plots.  It is a lot harder for villains to confine characters to await their doom when one simple call would bring the police, the hero and a whole army of plot-killing devices to save the day.  Likewise, anyone with a computer, even those with a fairly limited knowledge of what all the buttons do, can Google – revealing those plans to turn that plot of derelict ground, for which the heroine has been offered a derisory sum, into a supermarket and leisure centre complex.

Technology is making us rethink our plots.  In the old days, when Planning Information was, as Douglas Adams said, ‘on display in the bottom of a locked filing cabinet stuck in a disused lavatory with a sign on the door saying 'Beware of the Leopard'. plots could, quite happily, revolve around secret purchases of land.  When a land-line or phone box was the only way to contact someone at a distance, misunderstandings and kidnappings were much easier to use as plot devices.  Nowadays, when even children have mobile computer devices almost permanently in their hands, and Google Earth can show you a picture of anywhere in the world at the push of a button, life for the author is, paradoxically, much more complicated.

Yes, the villain can search and remove a mobile phone from our MC. But, can he be sure that they also don’t have a concealed second phone? A tablet hidden in a pocket?  Body-searches can be time-consuming and slow the plot, but are necessary if the reader isn’t going to curl their lip in despair.  Even if disabled, mobile phones, I am led to believe, can be tracked by satellite, so the villain can’t just discard the phone, he (or she, I am well aware that villains are not all moustache-twirlers) must make arrangements for it to be disposed of at a distance.  Google can be used to verify an identity – no more getting away with presenting yourself as an Investment Banker, mister ‘Penniless But Hoping To Marry Rich Heroine’!
If any of this is a problem in your WIP, may I present the ‘Yorkshire Solution?’ Glacially-slow broadband connections means looking in an encyclopaedia is faster than Googling, and the vast number of mobile signal Dead Zones negate the whole ‘dispose of the mobile’ plot problems. Or, perhaps, write historicals, where none of these things apply? Either way, take care that modern technology doesn’t mean that the possibility of one quick check of Wiki and an e mail will render your carefully-crafted plot climax redundant…


FALLING APART:  OUT NOW from Choc Lit Publishing – the sequel to VAMPIRE STATE OF MIND
STARSTRUCK -  Choc Lit Publishing
VAMPIRE STATE OF MIND - Choc Lit Publishing

Thank you, Jane, we may well be moving our setting to Yorkshire in future!

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Unknown said...

This all rings bells for me. Have had a heroine's phone stolen in a foreign country to help keep her from contacting the hero - but then realised they're so easy to replace cheaply, and internet cafes abound, so that was fruitless. Next moved the scene to remote area, where massive storm caused massive powercut.

Finally, deemed it pointless, deleted all and reconfigured story..

angela britnell said...

Cornwall is a useful location too as internet and phone signals often depends on the tides and availability of pasties!