Wednesday, June 15, 2016



Addicted to Little Screens

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The first romance by Lynn Patrick was published in 1982 (I write with Patricia Pinianski) and, like other writers, I’ve kept copies of our old books on the shelves.  For some reason, I picked one up the other day, read a few pages, and found myself wondering why the heroine-in-jeopardy didn’t pull out her cell phone as she was hiding from a bad guy.  Nearly as quickly, I remembered that was because most people didn’t carry phones until the 90’s.  
Wow!
Okay, I know this dates me.  I can actually remember the days when you had to find a pay phone if you were out of the house and needed to make a call.  As a college teacher, I can also remember the days when it wasn’t necessary to tell students to quit texting during a lecture or to turn off their devices so glowing screens won’t disturb other classmates who are also going to be tested on the documentary we’re watching in the dark.   Everyone knows the younger generations are phone-crazy.  I don’t have to search much to find articles about how millennials are addicted to their phones, most even sliding them under their pillows at night so they won’t lose track of what is going on every moment of their existence.  Some social theorists warn that this constant connection makes our youth unable to handle solitude and incapable of deep thought or contemplation.  All I know is that cell phones make it difficult to keep students’ attention in class.

 


 

 
Those pesky little screens also interfere with personal relationships at times.  I know people who refuse to turn their phones off during dinner and insist on answering a call or a text no matter who it’s from.  One time I sat across from my sister in the back seat of a car while she spoke on two phones at once, hers and her husband’s, one phone per ear. 
But back to how cell phones influence us as writers (or readers) . . .
Thanks to their portability, cell phones add more safety and convenience to our lives, as well as our characters’.  Because of GPS and all kinds of apps, we have new ways to develop and solve mysteries in our stories.  In Home for Keeps, the hero knows his teenage daughter is in danger because her phone was tossed from a car.  Danger!  Nothing could separate a teenager and her phone except force.

           
 
Cell phones can also add humor to a plot.  In The Long Road Home, the heroine tries to introduce her dad to a program that will make calls in answer to voice commands.  Unfortunately, Dad’s a mumbler and the phone offers to call just about anyone on earth but the person he’s trying to reach.  (This actually happened to someone I know.) 
 
What will happen with cell phones in the future?  We know they aren’t going away.  We know texts can now be read on a phone screen . . . or a watch screen.  Will romance readers be interrupting the stories we write to answer a text or a call?  Will we be writing shorter paragraphs and punchier plots to keep the reader’s attention?
 
What do you think?
 
Where's my phone?

Linda Sweeney/Lynn Patrick
 


23 comments:

  1. Great post! My husband and I were reminiscing about the days before cell phones. When I was in college, I'd use the shared pay phone in the dorm hallway to call home every other week! Imagine that now with helicopter parents. Funny how the world has changed. You made me realize that I usually ignore cell phones in my novels, but maybe I should incorporate them. Next time!

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  2. Loved this! Yes, I do remember the pay phone as well. I remember asking for one for Christmas when I was a kid. :) I'm one of those rare individuals who still has a flip phone, Lynn. I even used one in a recent story. I don't want to be available 24-7, nor do I want to walk around a public place with my face stuck to a screen oblivious to what's going on around me. People are missing out on the benefits of direct face to face social interaction. Plus, I'm easily distracted. If I had an iPhone, I'd never get any writing done.

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    1. Maybe that's what James Patterson's new Bookshots is all about - 150 page books being released soon (or already released??) I guess contemporary life is more demanding or stressful and the reader needs stories told more quickly. Of course, whether or not that's successful remains to be seen. We have a Tracfone because we can't deal with the superexpensive iPhones and while they do amazing things, we don't really need that in our lives. As a writer, I don't understand or even know about a lot of new technology and am thinking about maybe trying an historical because I wouldn't have to worry about it. Life is full of interesting twists and turns.

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    2. Forced to write historicals because of cell phones? Now that's a new one! I do have an android type of phone but I use it more for weather reports than calls. However, I am not a millennial. My students say they feel naked without their phones.

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  3. I use cell phones in books and I have mine with me all the time, but I'm trying to keep it in the background--both in books and in life!

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    1. And that's not always an easy task, right?

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  4. I’ve included cell phones in my stories but I’m always worried about what I’ve written today will be out of date by the time my book gets printed. For me, it’s a love/hate relationship: can’t live with them and can’t live without them.

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    1. Yeah, modern life changes so fast, you never know.

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  5. Great post, ladies! Hope your Wednesday is wonderful!

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  6. Great post, ladies! Hope your Wednesday is wonderful!

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  7. I'm so laughing at your reminder that in earlier books there were no cell phones. I was writing the other day and had the heroine dialing a number. Wow that dates me too. LOL Yep, we do have to keep up to date and in the 21st century.

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    1. Suspenseful movies from the past really drive me nuts when they don't reach for their phones! I think we take these things for granted so much, we don't even know how dominant their influence is.

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  8. Did you know there was an app for phones that lets you take a photo of a key and have one made from the photo? Yep, that's in my next book, a romantic suspense. And while I use cell phones in my book I wish there was a mandatory down time from them!

    And Sandra, I still have my characters dialing a phone because I think that terminology is still used. My granddaughter talks about dialing a number and she's never seen a rotary phone. lol

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    1. Keys can be made from a photo? Very interesting.

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  9. Great post! Don't you miss the good 'ol days when new relationships started out by talking? Now relationships are built and ended with texts. My husband is a technophobe and no on in the family plays on their phone around him. When the kids come over to visit, they leave their phone on the kitchen counter until they are ready to leave. The other day we all went out to eat and we were the only ones in the restaurant not on our phones the whole time. I love the convenience of technology, but I worry about how it's affecting our society.

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    1. Yes, I worry, too. It's interesting to note that the group of people who are discussing this here are NOT addicted to the phones. And many are writers. Maybe we wouldn't be able to be writers if we allowed our concentration to be compromised like some phone-users.

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  10. I seriously dont think so. In fact right now my cell phone is plugged up in another room charging. I used to use it for a kindle app until I got a kindle for christmas and then it is only a place when i am board to look at facebook. I still love paperback books. My kindle makes me loose sleep reading on it...I know life was much simpliar when we werent so connected by technology.

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    1. For me, I'm fine with Kindle for normal-sized books but to read a thousand-pager I prefer a physical copy. There's so much happening in a long book, I need to go back and check out past scenes which I think is difficult electronically.

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  11. I'm notorious for forgetting my cell phone. It caught up with me a couple of months ago, when I fell and broke my leg, and had to yell for help until someone heard me.

    I do wish people would look up from the screen when they cross the street, though. I've even seen people riding bikes and texting. The mom in me worries.

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    2. Maybe you saw that video of a woman so wrapped up in her phone that she walked into a fountain in a mall. The video was shared on the Internet by people who thought it was funny but the crazy woman actually sued the mall. For what? Putting a fountain in her way?

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  12. Oh, ack, coming in late and addicted to my phone. I use it for directions (love you SIRI). I use it to help my 11 year old with homework. It has all my numbers and I just need to say, "Call Don." and it calls my husband. I play games on it, too.

    On the other hand, I'm a college prof and battle cell phones in the classroom. I don't take mine. I leave it in the office. I think one of the biggest enemies education has is the cell phone.

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