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Author Topic: Old Drafts - Mobile Phones, Cars, Inflation, and Music Formats...  (Read 4084 times)
delboy
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« on: January 23, 2012, 04:18:56 AM »

A while back I read an old tale of mine that almost got accepted back in the day (back in the day before t'internet, that is) with a view to maybe polishing it up and re-subbing it. Alas, the tale would fail miserable today as the simple fact of a mobile phone would ruin the plot. And as everyone has such things these days it would seem a bit too much like pushing pieces round a chess board to have all my key characters forget their phones... I guess I could simply write April 1982 at the top of the tale, although that feels a little lightweight too

Similarly, over the weekend I reread the entire draft of the first novel length manuscript I ever wrote. This was way back before the turn of the century. After about ten years of trying and failing to complete a novel I set out with one aim in mind - to finish such a thing. This I did, it was c120k long, and when I finished I put an elastic band around, put it in my bottom drawer and never looked at it again. It had served it's purpose.

Anyway, I finally plucked up courage to reread the thing over the last few days and it was far far better than I recalled. It was actually like reading someone else's book as I had totally forgotten much of it - and had it been someone else's book I'd have insisted that they revise and rework it and do something with it for chrissakes! There's plenty wrong with the story, I could tighten up the writing a lot, manage the order of play a lot better, improve backgrounds, characters, etc etc (all the stuff I learnt here) but the overall story, the pacing, the various cliff-hangers and climaxes, the black moment, even lots of moments that (to me) were genuinely moving were all there, and had I any insight or real knowledge o fthis game back then I'd have probably rewritten it and subbed it around a bit.

I'm actually quite tempted to do so now, but the story is so much of it's time (late 90's) that I'm not sure the plot would work any longer. A couple of characters had just got their first mobile phones (again ubiquitous mobiles would have solved many of the characters' problems at a stroke), the net was rarely mentioned, the cars were old and had cassette players (a key part of the plot....), the music  (again, a key element of the plot - as it always is with me) was very different, prices and fashion... Folks still had vinyl records...

Again, I figured i could simply write "Summer 1999" at the beginning of the tale, but I'm not sure it's long enough ago to work as a historical piece.

Anyway, if nothing else it made me feel a bit better about my writing for a few hours  cool

Derek
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« Reply #1 on: January 23, 2012, 04:33:01 AM »

Mobiles are the bane of the crime / mystery writer, Del.

There's only so many times the battery's dead, the phone's forgotten, there's no coverage, the ring tone changes you into a flesh-eating zombie, etc.

DW Cheesy
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Ed
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« Reply #2 on: January 23, 2012, 02:47:21 PM »

You could always wait another twenty years, and then it would be old enough to be an historical piece afro

Nah -- I'd go for the 1999 at the top, I think. Perfectly acceptable smiley
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« Reply #3 on: January 23, 2012, 05:59:39 PM »

I agree with Ed.  1999 at the top, or 98 or whatever would be fine, particularly if so many elements of the story revolve around that specific period, enough to convince the reader that it is indeed the nineties.  Shit, maybe enough time hasn't passed yet. 

Funny thing, I have a cassette player in my car, I have a huge vinyl collection, and I happen to be listening to a lot of Alice in Chains lately.  I probably wouldn't see a whole lot wrong with the book as far as the timeframe goes.  I never drifted too far from the nineties in the first place!  I don't have a smart phone and the only Apple product I've ever owned is my ipod.  I was on the Internet in '99 for a year.   I finally got the Internet again in '07, very reluctantly.

Frankly, I sometimes think I'd like to go back to the nineties.

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« Reply #4 on: January 23, 2012, 08:37:39 PM »

The way I see it--the times are changing quickly and ten years ago is so far removed from today that it would be to some degree a completely different historical period--not sure if it would justify the genre term of Historical Fiction, but it definitely is a different world--the 90's, the early 00's...but then again the Eighties for me feels like just yesterday...damn scary I say...anyway, I'm currently working on a long piece that is set in two different years--1967 and 1975...not Historical, but its the time of the story...I'd say go for it...
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« Reply #5 on: February 13, 2012, 05:07:07 AM »

I agree with Ed. I think you should dust it down and see what you can do with it.  Things don't always have to be set in the present or way back in the past, I don't think so anyway. I reckon your novel with have an authenticity to it because it was written when it's set rather than trying to look back and recapture an age.
Go for it.
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« Reply #6 on: February 14, 2012, 10:22:04 AM »

I agree with Ed. I think you should dust it down and see what you can do with it.  Things don't always have to be set in the present or way back in the past, I don't think so anyway. I reckon your novel with have an authenticity to it because it was written when it's set rather than trying to look back and recapture an age.
Go for it.

I totally agree. Sometimes I see TV shows that are set in the 80's and I think, "That's not how I remember it..." I think screen writers in particular try to romanticize previous decades, or take all the extremes and put them in the story to make sure nobody misses the point. Your story will have details that were current when you wrote them.

I also think even though the dawning of the Internet Age isn't that far in the past, people still view it as distinctly different from "today." Most of us can't imagine going back to a time with no e-mail, no social networks/forums, no cell phones (or only the big clunky ones). Contrast that with someone in the late 80's looking back at the early 70's, and apart from possibly not being able to imagine life without a microwave oven, things weren't that different.
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