“Technology can be our best friend, and technology can also be the biggest party pooper of our lives. It interrupts our own story, interrupts our ability to have a thought or a daydream, to imagine something wonderful, because we’re too busy bridging the walk from the cafeteria back to the office on the cell phone”
Like my good friend Steve says, cell phones are not always the best thing in the world, and when it comes to writing horror, they are pretty much the worst.
Imagine if you will, what some of our favourite horror stories would look like with the simple addition of a cell phone.
“Hello, animal control? Yeah, this is Donna Trenton calling. So, listen, I’m at the Camber house…yeah, that’s them, and anyways, there’s a big ass dog running around out here. Oh, good! I was worried there for a minute. I’ll just stay in my car until you get here. Thanks.”
Nightmare on Elm St.
Tina: It was so scary, Nancy. He was all burned up and had knives for hands.
Nancy: Cray cray! Let me look that up.
Nancy googles it on her phone.
Nancy: Well, when I put in all that stuff, I got a bunch of newspaper articles about some creepy pedo that used to live around here. It says he disappeared or something when we were just little kids. Hold on, maybe my mom knows something.
Nancy texts her mom.
Ma do you know a guy named freddy kruger????
OMG I haven’t heard that name in years. Me and the other parents killed him 🙂
Nancy: Yeah, our parents totally killed him. I guess he found a way into our dreams. Hold on, I’m gonna look up dream therapy.
The Blair Witch Project
“I threw that fucking map into the river!”
“No worries, my phone has GPS.”
That’s just a few. But basically, every classic horror story would be radically different if they had cell phones in them. Part of what makes horror stories great is that nothing is convenient for the protagonist. And if there is one thing that cell phones are, is convenient. The other thing cell phones are, is plentiful. You can’t throw a stone these days without hitting a person talking/texting/surfing/tweeting/snap-chatting/etc. on a cell phone.
While planning my novel, I quickly realized that the story wouldn’t work if there was even one operational cell phone (seriously, the story would end at chapter 2!). Luckily, there was already a plot point in place that could easily explain why the cell phones in the story would be rendered useless.
Still though, this whole cell phone thing had weighed on my mind so much that I even considered (for a short time) changing the time period of the novel to take place in the 80’s. It would be very easy to do and wouldn’t change the overall story that much. But, on the flipside, having it set thirty years ago wouldn’t do anything to serve the novel either (other than not having to deal with modern technology). So, after a bit of consideration, as well as getting the opinion of fellow writer Ben Van Dongen (who is hard a work on his own debut novel. Check out his trials and tribulations here: https://benwltp.wordpress.com/ ) I decided to just deal with the damn things, because the fact is, we can’t put the cellular genie back into the bottle.
Word count: 11400
2 thoughts on “Hey, I’m Writing a Novel (pt. 3)”
So? How did you do it?
Don’t worry, I know I’ll have to wait and read it for myself. Cell phones (along with technology like gps, and even airplanes) has changed our lives, therefore the stories we tell. Horror stories are clearly hindered by easy communication, but it can be an issue in other stories too. How would Die Hard have been different if John Mccleane had a cell?
I’m just arguing your point for you again, but you’re dang right. I’m looking forward to seeing how you get around the problem.
Even though I get to talk to you in person about these kinds of details, I love reading your thoughts on your process and the obstacles you encounter trying to unfold your novel.
You have such a creative well of knowledge that I cannot wait to just tear into your book. Keep on pushing forward my friend 🙂