The Cell Phone Problem

Short blog post today about a problem I’ve recently been dealing with in my current WIP. Cell phones.

I have a smart phone. I love my smart phone. No, don’t worry, I don’t love it more than my wife and kids. But I do use it A LOT. Between playing games and checking social media, it takes up a lot of my downtime. But, I also use it to look things up or to get directions or to confirm the hours of something or to call or text my family and friends.

What does this fairly boring description of what smart phones are have to do with writing? So many of the typical problems (particularly minor ones) that protagonists face can be solved with cell phones. Is so and so available? Just give them a call. How do we get to that place? Check the cell phone. Is there a surprise thunderstorm coming in that will knock out the power and lead to a brutal murder that needs to be solved? Check the phone (and when the power goes out, use the cell phone flashlight).

My current story, as a YA novel, has teenagers as protagonists. I’ve been working with middle school students for the last 14 years and it should be no surprise that they always have their phones with them. So every problem that comes up as part of the story, I need to think of ways to either not have phones be able to solve it, or come up with reasons why the characters don’t have their cell phone charged/working. It’s a minor problem, but it’s something that I’m working through.

My wife says this is a chance for me to be creative with my story, and she’s right of course. It is. But that doesn’t make it any easier to deal with.

How do other writers deal with cell phones in their stories? Let me know!

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