Technology in Stories

As TV Tropes has an entire page about, cell phones are still hard to work into stories for some reason. Maybe we’re all still used to them being part of the future, like in sci-fi TV shows and such. One of my favorite books about writing, How Not to Write a Novel by Howard Mittlemark and Sandra Newman, makes mention of this–in the past nobody had cell phones, and there are lots of stories from back then that would be totally different with cell phones. If you’re writing in an era that has them though, you at least need to remain aware that at least someone probably has one–unless you’re dealing with my dad in which case he might’ve forgotten or intentionally left it at home. Or you’re dealing with me, who hates all phones and refuses to have one. But I still have a tablet, and I’m at least gonna email somebody, even if they don’t respond.

My first two novels, Slubes and Darmenzi, featured protagonists from a small village–only a couple characters even have regular phones. So that wasn’t much of a big deal… except in retrospect I’m not sure why Zeth didn’t have one, but does have a phone in his vehicle. Ah well, what’s past is past. Maybe he was trying to hack his phone and install wings on it or something and he broke it. He doesn’t live at a place where he could buy another one, anyway.

In Wandering Fortunes, the protagonists again begin living in a very rustic area, so they have no cell phones. Then they move to the big city… so of course they’re going to get cell phones! Now I have to deal with this malarkey! Well, the first time it really becomes pertinent it actually makes more sense for them to not have them–they’re put in prison, of course their stuff’s going to be confiscated. But for the most part I actually have a note while editing, and one of my passes I actually keep cell phones in the back of my mind. “They have them, is there a reason to use them?”

Now then, the reason I didn’t call this “Cell Phones in Stories” is I also apparently have trouble remembering that cars are a thing. At New Zhopolis the main characters are always running around; initially they don’t have a vehicle, and at a big city I suppose I can imagine traffic being so bad that it’s easier to get around walking. It’s also particularly troublesome when there are few parking spaces. But you know what probably does exist? TAXI SERVICES. Buses! And if you’re going halfway across the city you’re probably not gonna run there!

A lot of times this probably doesn’t matter because you’ll show the characters once they’ve arrived, not on the way, but you’d better believe I had a chapter where they ran halfway across the city and when I started editing I was like “why are they running halfway across the city?? they’re in a hurry so they won’t wait for a bus but did you know there are services now where you can call (maybe with a cell phone??) and someone will drive to where you are to drive you somewhere??? I’ve used one before! what? no i’m not talking about uber. i think these are local. although an uber service would definitely be something you could easily have in a story, but honestly the only difference between it and taxis i can imagine is one of them probably isn’t unionized, and obviously you should make sure your fictional characters are properly unionized. what were we talking about? who are you, anyway?”

Anyway. Check your email. Then check your spam folder. Thank you.

New Wandering Fortunes chapter is up! Chapter 12: Unbalancing Act

The next chapter of Wandering Fortunes is available to read! In Chapter 12: Unbalancing Act, Alden and his friends apply to join the Zhopian Guard, a police force for the city of New Zhopolis. Before they join, however, they have to pass an interview–a head examination–basically Top is doomed from the start. If Alden and Ropak can pass their interview, they’ll have to figure out some way to get Top to–provided the beach ball doesn’t eat the interviewer first.

With this, an entire year’s worth of Wandering Fortunes is now up. That still puts us under a third through, though!

I’d like to make note as well right now that this coming month will be a little different. Instead of the beginning of the next month, the next piece of writing will be released December 20th–less than three weeks away. Ooh, I wonder whyyy? To accommodate the early schedule, those giving $3 or more on my Patreon–who ordinarily receive new pieces on the 15th of each month–will receive it five days early on December 10th, just over a week away. Join up to see what the fuss for this month is all about! Or if you just want to give one dollar, you’ll still get weekly updates on why I’m so slow what I’m up to. Check it out!

New Wandering Fortunes chapter up! Chapter 10: A Place for the Placeless

Here’s chapter ten of Wandering Fortunes! This brings us to the end of the first quarter of this story and about halfway through the first part. This chapter introduces a lot of new friends! With a place to stay found in New Zhopolis, Alden, Top, and Ropak meet their new housemates. Some ignore them, some are enthusiastic, and some are mysterious. Also, one of them says memes. You’ve been warned.

As it turns out, three of the characters introduced in this chapter are inspired by characters of my friends Paperlanty, Devon, and Darvo “Cthulhuigi” Prower. (Sheesh.) Try to guess which ones! Or don’t. I can’t tell you what to do.

Also something new with this chapter is a new design for the chats between Duth and Wally. Instead of having their name followed by a colon and then what they say, their text is on a separate paragraph. Not sure how good it looks online, but it looks a lot better in regular text.

Final work on completing Darmenzi has begun. It’ll still be a little while before I’m done, but I’m hoping to be able to release this book in December. You know, so people can buy it for Clichemas. Obviously. As a reminder, not only do patrons of my Patreon get the serialized chapters half a month early, but when Darmenzi releases you’ll get a copy of the ebook. Not only that, but if you give $3 or more you’ll receive a copy of the ebook a whole month in advance! Then you can see how amazingly it has improved from what I posted online last year.