Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Work in Progress: The Times, They Are A-Changing

As you may recall here, during the course of revising my novel-in-progress I decided to change the setting to a definitive one: the fall of 2000. I’d started the book so long ago that in some patches it was set in 2005ish, and other patches were more like 2008ish, and some were in no time period whatsoever. Additionally, I didn't to resolve some complications with everyone being their proper ages with their proper histories (i.e. I didn’t want the mother to have given birth to her children when she was 12 simply so she could have been a Beach Boys fan!), and a definitive setting would help that situation.

Anyway, the transformation on the setting details is now complete (yay!), and it was amazing to me the difference a few years made, especially in terms of technology. So, changing 2008 back to 2000 doesn’t seem like that great of a jump, but here are some of the things we now take for granted that my Google research showed me had to fall by the wayside:

--DVDs. Yes, there were DVDs in 2000 but not in the total saturation way they’re prevalent now. My character would not have been an “early adopter” in this technology.

--Ring tones. Now, to get a classic rock song into my book that sparks a memory in a character I had to resort to the old-fashioned radio, instead of just having a cell phone ring.

--Cell phones that are also cameras. Sorry, it was all cameras back then!

--BlackBerry. The technology existed, but people weren’t using BlackBerries yet. My high-powered business developer has to make do with a cell phone.

--Facebook/MySpace. Yikes! What’s a teenager to do?! I figured out something, but this might have been the biggest bummer and the most difficult technology obstacle to overcome.

--Broadband. Certainly not as common as now, so my poor characters are stuck in dial-up.

I had a scene that was flashback to 1984…oops, no fax machines in common use. Again, it’s the business guys who suffer. (How did people survive back then without all that instantaneous information, anyway?)

I also realized that in November of 2000, it would be impossible for my characters not to at least allude to the Bush-Gore election battle, so I had to throw in a few comments about that to sound realistic.

But here’s one I just couldn’t give up, maybe because it was at the end of the book, and maybe because it really doesn’t matter, and maybe because I needed one secret thing to remind myself that it’s a NOVEL, not a historical document: the studies that seem to indicate dark chocolate is good for heart health didn’t come out until 2003. But my characters seem to be especially prescient on this matter, quoting these studies in 2000. Maybe they should buy some stock in Google, too...or better yet: oil futures!


DC-area author Leslie Pietrzyk explores the creative process and all things literary.