How to Successfully Incorporate Technology into Your Story
Writing a novel that incorporates modern technology can be a challenge. The ease of communication today with cellphones and computers can hinder the forward movement of the plot. Yet, if you merely ignore the option of using this technology, the readers may become frustrated. Why doesn’t X just text Y? This can be especially relevant in mystery/suspense/thriller novels and anything that may rely on miscommunication, like romance and comedy of errors.
Instead of just ignoring the technology, here are some ways to use it to your advantage—or render it useless.
Make it Anonymous
With the recent popularization of apps like Sarahah, an anonymous messaging service, you can build suspense or mystery as to who is behind the messages. This could work really well for threatening messages or love notes.
Make it Massive
With modern technology, seemingly everyone has a platform. When something goes awry in your novel, it doesn’t have to be just the main characters who are aware. A mass text could spread a rumor in an instant. A YouTube video could share an embarrassing moment for the whole world to see. A mean-spirited post on social media could have a character feeling an unbearable loneliness. What would have been contained between social circles in the past can now be placed on a global stage, magnifying problems.
If the issue is a miscommunication or mistaken identity, a great way to add to the confusion is a phone swap. At a party or bar, two characters could grab the wrong phone (unlocked, of course) and proceed to communicate with people, who think that they are the other person. Chaos (and hilarity) will ensue until the mix-up is cleared up.
Similar to the phone swap but with intent, this is great if you have a meddlesome character. Character A leaves their phone (or computer, or whatever technology makes sense for your character or story) unattended, and Character B uses it to their advantage. Maybe they pick a fight with Character A’s significant other. Maybe they initiate contact with someone from Character A’s past. Maybe they release sensitive material on the internet, leaving Character A to take the blame for the fallout. The possibilities are endless.
Take it Away (temporarily)
This is a great way to block communication for a short period of time so a character is out-of-the-loop during a crisis. If your character is underage, they could get into some trouble and have their technology take away. If they’re older, they could go to a restaurant with friends and play phone stack. They could go somewhere with horrible reception and no Wifi. They could turn off their phone while at a movie, or be in the process or upgrading their phone, or their phone could die while they are out and about with no charger.
Everybody Makes Mistakes
Nothing is infallible. It’s easy to text the wrong person, and believable in your novel. Autocorrect could create some hilarious miscommunications. And emojis could mean something completely different to two people—especially if they have different types of phones, and the emojis don’t translate well.
Using these strategies, you can make sure your story is free of technology-related plot holes. And if all else fails and you really can’t find away a technological problem, you can always make it a period piece and avoid the issue altogether.
Running into any problems incorporating technology into your plot? Leave a question below!