The subject of this article falls under the broad category of fact-checking, but it encompass a specific area that could use some extra attention when you’re working through a manuscript.
Whether you’re a writer or an editor, it’s likely that you take time to consider the technology and products of the tale world-wide in a manuscript. This is probably especially true if the tale takes region in the distant past, in the future, or in another world.
But do you always remember to look at technological advances made during your own lifetime? Or are some technologies and products so familiar that you didn’t even think of checking out when they came into popular use? Are some products so common that they feel like they’ve been around forever? They haven’t been. And while some products might have been around well before your personas use them, they may have been in a different developmental stage than the one you’re familiar with.
If a story is set in your lifetime but does not feature today’s world, have you verified that the story’s everyday conveniences were available to your attributes 50, 20, 5, or even 2 years ago?
Because technology has advanced so rapidly in the last one hundred years, because the world has gotten both larger and smaller, with people able to travel widely, uncovering them to new people and cultures and practices–and because modifications have been even more pronounced in the last 50 or 60 times, with many improvements taking place in the last 10 to 15 years–you may need to pay careful attention to products and technology.
Consider 24/7 television programing. Some of you won’t remember this, but TV stations used to go off the air overnight. With the rise of cable, deregulation, and technologies in the 80 s and 90 s, Tv stations started biding on all nighttime.( Some terminals here and there did broadcast in the night hours before this time. But they only exceptions .) In those early days of 24 -hour programing, there were a whole lot of infomercials to keep insomniacs enthralled.
This was a big change in the television landscape. And a big change in people’s behavior too. Before that time, you didn’t stay up all night and watch Tv. You couldn’t.
CNN began its 24 -hour news coverage in 1980; that’s not that long ago. Twenty-four-hour coverage varied what we saw of the world. News didn’t have to wait until dinnertime; we appreciated occurrences playing out on our TVs at any hour.
But it wasn’t always that way. And if your tale takes region before this time, you need to be aware that people couldn’t simply turn on the TV and instantaneously know what was happening across the world.
The internet is new enough that I assume that most of us know not to have a character employing it back in 1975, but we also need to remember that the early days of the internet were different from what we have today. Dial-up access was the reality. And not everyone had a home computer, much less internet access through a phone.
Products may start out in one form, but they often change over time. And some alterations are fairly rapid. Where in their development would products have been when your personas encountered them? What features or disadvantages would they have had at that time?
My suggestion is that you check products and technologies that your personas use or be attributed to. Make sure those products and technologies existed–in the form you show them being used–at the time your persona is using them.
Check the dates of scientific, medical, and technological advances. Check the dates of vehicle introductions, the freeing dates of albums or songs. Check the release dates of new smartphones.
Would your attributes lease have rented videos from Blockbuster? Would your personas have rented a VHS machine in order to watch movies at home?( Ah, the good old days .)
Was a product offered in your character’s part of the world in the year you have him using it? Merely because a product was developed and sold doesn’t mean that everyone everywhere had access to it. Availability likewise doesn’t mean that everyone could afford a specific product, especially in the early days of some products.
When did operator-assisted calls terminate in your character’s city? When did party lines give way to private cables for every house?
Could your character afford an answering machine? Were answering machines even in common use in your story’s year( s )? Would your character have needed to use an answering service instead?
What was life like when people couldn’t reach others so easily?
There are so many possible products and inventions that I couldn’t name even a small percentage of them, but throughout this article I’ll include a few questions as inspires for your own searches. And yet I’m not going to limit my motivates to products.
Not only should you consider changes in technology and the products your characters would use, but consider also the existence or time lines of companies, landmarks, historic events, major tragedies( neighbourhood, national, worldwide ), environmental disasters, struggles, and even major changes to towns and cities.
Does your tale account for Boston’s Big Dig or LA’s Metro Rail project? What about the gas crises of the 1970 s?
Had the first space shuttle been launched? Had the Challenger exploded? What would these events have “ve been meaning to” your attributes?
What occurrences would your attributes know about? Which would influence them if they took place during the story’s time line? Which would have influenced them if they took place during a character’s childhood or teen years?
What was the slang of the day? What words were in transition, and which would your attributes have used? What about popular words or words for people or objects?
In what time did Mars change the sunburn M& M to blue? You wouldn’t want a character picking out the blue ones before they were produced.
In what time did the first child restraint statutes for automobile benches go into effect?
When did your character’s favorite fast-food restaurant reach a certain state or country?
What was the legal drinking age in the local community in your story’s present? Laws changed over the years, so this is a detail you might need to check.
When did companies consolidate? Do your characters use the correct name for the companies of the working day?
When did companies go out of business or get bought out? Did a company mentioned by one of your personas even exist at the time you have the character mentioning it?
What would people in your narrative world have known about the wider world? How would they have discovered that information? How old-fashioned would news have been by the time it reached your characters?
Nearly everyone today owns a cellphone and a computer. But that wasn’t always the case.
Before computers were ubiquitous, what did university student use to type their articles in your fictional world-wide? A study centre where they had access to a typewriter for two hours? A friend’s typewriter?
What real-world events would have inspired or touched or shaken your personas? What events, products, companies, or inventions would have influenced them? Consider a few cases . . .
the Beatles breaking up
the fall of the Berlin Wall
the first disposable Bic lighter
assassinations: JFK, MLK, RFK, Anwar Sadat, Malcolm X
prevalence of home computers, residence printers, fax machines
pot use becoming legal
Jaws( first summer blockbuster)
information at our fingertips 24/7
World of Warcraft
Mandela released from prison
first test-tube baby
the Channel Tunnel
O. J. Simpson trial
killing of Osama bin Laden
trial of Saddam Hussein
stock market crash
Indian Ocean tsunami and earthquake
election of Barack Obama, first blacknes US president
ebay, Apple, Google, Alibaba, Amazon, Baidu, Yahoo, AOL, Uber, Myspace, Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, Wikipedia, Instagram, Netflix, YouTube, PayPal
Fitting a Character into History
What world was your attribute birth into? What world would she have known from her childhood–what kinds of products are nostalgic to her?
What’s new to your attribute in her present? What newfangled contraption is cool to her? Which ones drive her crazy? What product does she drool over? How does she manage changes in technology?
Where do your personas and tale events fall in the time line of national, cultural, and world-wide occurrences?
Before or after Watergate and Nixon’s resignation?
Before or after going on the moon?
Before or after 9/11?
Before or after the death of Princess Diana?
Before or after the disappearing of MH370?
Before, after, or during a particular war or combat?
Before or following the discovery of AIDS and HIV?
A few more the questions and questions to keep you thinking . . .
Did a major Ebola, SARS, or Avian flu outbreak take place in or just before your story’s time line?
Was there a notable sports win or win before or during your story’s occurrences? Had the Olympics been boycotted? Did any sports figures have to give up their names or honours? Would one or more of your attributes mention these events? Be influenced by them?
Did a sports crew move to a different metropoli? Did a familiar stadium change identifies?
Not simply do you need to know what happened in your story’s now, you need to know what happened in your attributes’ formative years to induce them who they are in the present.
What was around to influence them? What people or events afford impetus to their dreams? Who were their idols?
Was a certain TV show on the air? What music the organizations and modes were popular? Which were on the way out? What were the popular movies, drinkings, journals, leisure activities?
Would the building or opening of the London Eye influence your narrative world-wide and characters? What about the Louvre’s add-on of its pyramids?
When did European countries switch from their own currencies to the Euro? Was a country part of the European Union when you said it was?
What was the local political situation? The world-wide political situation?
Was the area of your tale( town, metropoli, commonwealth, part, country) genuinely in deterioration at the time you said it was, or had the area visualized a boom in brand-new businesses and home building? You won’t crave a narrative to be out of sync with an area’s reality.
What were the social trends during your story’s time line?
As you work through your manuscript, give a believe we products, engineering, social trends, historic events, and even a city’s growing or diminish. Ensure that facts are accurate. Don’t have the Mets playing at Citi Field if they would have been in Shea Stadium at the time of your tale. Don’t have a character remember a visit to the Spy Museum in D.C. when she was a child if she’s in her fifties in 2018. Don’t have a character blithely visiting a marijuana dispensary in a state that doesn’t have them.
Look beyond what’s familiar to you to ensure that details fit your story’s setting. Use details to enrich your narratives, to give them authenticity, but give them more than a pas envisage. Put them to use for both the character’s present and his past. But make sure that you get your realities straight.
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