Andrew Girle's Blog

Crime and Speculative Fiction Blooking

I hate mobile phones

Posted by Andrew Girle on April 15, 2012

At least, mobiles (@Cellphones in the USofA) and what they have done to tension in crime fiction.

Our hero is stumped, she cannot connect that last piece of the puzzle, and if she doesn’t work it out in the next five minutes, the villain will escape.

Problem? Of course not. Phone a bloody friend. Arrange backup, sort out a roadblock, check with the forensic experts, whatever.

That is how it works in the real world, folks.

But the whole idea of thrillers is the THRILL, and that comes from tension. And real tension takes time to develop, it has to fester and bubble and rise like bile in the back of your throat until it stops you thinking about anything but turning the page and when you finally do you realise you haven’t been drawing breath and the resolution lets you BREATHE …

And mobile phones destroy that.

*sigh*

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5 Responses to “I hate mobile phones”

  1. Ronnale said

    what if she accidentally breaks her phone? drops in a puddle of water? drops and breaks on the pavement….? just a thought

    • Or it gets taken by the villain… but we don’t live in an empty world, and you can get mobile again for fifty bucks at the first shop you walk into. So the tension again becomes a short term rather than a long term thing.

  2. I was thinking what Ronnale said – gotta ditch the phone somehow. A broken phone is easy to conjure, heck it happens to me all the time! And then the tension can be even greater when someone relies so heavily on their phones and technology, to suddenly be without it can create more tension than a person who never had such a device in the first place. It is paralyzing, losing that connection with the outside world if you’re all alone and have no way to contact anyone. . . .talk about tension! 🙂

    • I have been thinking about how to make the phones less central to destroying my plots, and have realised that the easiest way is to do what real criminals do – multiple phones on redirect to each other stashed all over the place (try tracing and locating THAT!) and maybe even go for phone overload – ever notice how stressed you get when the boss keeps calling to find out what you are up to when you are trying to concentrate on the job at hand, so you turn the phone off… just what calls will you miss?

      • Great idea to have the character just turn the phone off! I’m notoriously bad at charging my phone, what if – those precious five minutes come and her phone dies. No time to get another phone, and wait? Where’d she leave the charger? No time to find it or get a new one when the chase is on and the villian must be caught! 🙂

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