Monday, July 8, 2013

Technology Terms in Your Books

Dating is fun, right? Yeah, totally. Unless you've been doing it for an awfully long time, and then it's just tedious. :-)

Even though the occasional date is great, we as authors need to avoid dating ourselves or our books. Okay, that's totally cheesy. Sorry. :-)

What do I mean, you ask?

I started reading a book a few months ago that had been recently published. But the more into the book I got, the more I realized the author was very out of it when it came to technology terms, slang, and other things. The words he used showed he'd either written the book in the nineties, or was completely stuck in that era. And the dialog was so distracting, I couldn't finish the book. I spent most of the time rolling my eyes.

Not everyone is going to trip over this sort of thing, I know. So why does it matter? Mainly because a lot of readers will be pulled out of the story if they come across something that is really out-dated. It's really hard to find appropriate slang for all generations, so I think it's okay to slip in the occasional word here and there, but when the entire dialogue is mainly, "like, totally cool!" then we've got a problem. :-)

An example of one of my pet peeves: "Bye!" Sarah said, then snapped/flipped/clicked the phone shut.

Really? Most people don't use flip phones anymore. And those who do will end up switching for something newer when their current phone breaks and they can't find a flip phone. What's the better way to show that someone has ended a call? How about this: "Bye!" Sarah said, then ended the call. :-) Or, even though it's also dated, "hung up" can also be used.

The point is, think of ways that will be more universally acceptable over the next several years. Yeah, that's right. You heard me. Predict the future! :-)

What are some of your pet peeves when it comes to technology, slang, and other things being outdated? Have you ever noticed something like this when reading? If so, did it bother you? Or am I the only one? :-)


  1. If the book is solidly set in a particular time period, that kind of stuff needs to be there and be authentic. If you're going amorphous on the time period, you need to leave as much of that stuff out as possible.

    1. This is very true. Unfortunately for the one author, the nineties aren't exactly a time that everyone wants to read about right now. Must of us lived through that period and are glad it's over. :-)

      Loving your comments, by the way!

  2. If it was an MG or YA aimed book, though, the 90s are not something they would be all that familiar with, so it may not be that big a deal. It really depends on your intended audience.
    My book, The House on the Corner, is set in the early 80s, so kids have really liked it because it feels like a different time and, for them, it is. Adults (that are around my age) have really liked it for the sense of nostalgia. I suppose, though, it also depends upon the atmosphere of the book. You don't get that from just tossing out terms like "flip phone;" you really have to embed your story in the time period.

    Thank you, by the way!