The novel project debate rages on upon the battleground of my innermost thoughts, but I'm starting to trend towards one of two ideas (#2 and #3, for those who might have read the list). It has occurred to me to try the solution of writing them both at the same time, which has actually worked well for me in the past - particularly when the two projects are of different mindset / tone / setting - with the downfall that when I finish, I suddenly have two books to edit, and that's a lot more hairy.
But my indecision isn't the topic of this blog post. (Aren't you relieved? Don't answer that.) Instead, as I've pondered the elements of one idea (#2), I've realized that one of the downsides is that I have to deal with an aspect of technological advancement that has always puzzled and irritated me: social media and portable data access. Though I finally got "Baby's First Smartphone" right before I started school (September of 2013), I still lag behind in a lot of ways. I adore my desktop setup and can't imagine ever trading it in. I have limited interest in owning a tablet: the main upside would seem to be to for portable, annotated recipes.
So it's hard for me to sympathize and sometimes even visualize where this technology might lead. In Scylla and Charybdis, I indulged in a little wish-fulfillment: constant connectivity reached a critical mass, until there was a social backlash against it. People started to consider being unavailable a sign of importance / status. Of course, access to information remained almost ubiquitous. The accuracy of that information, on the other hand ... well, it did all start with the internet, didn't it?
Much of this technology - especially when it is fast-forwarded into future possibilities - makes it difficult to come up with a plot where missing persons or fugitives are involved. Obviously, people have been coming up with ways around surveillance since before the first pair of binoculars, but that's yet another layer of speculation, with the added pressure that the novel may hinge upon whether or not it convinces the reader. It's the same problem that occurs when you add seers and telepathy to a fantasy story: how do you create a mystery? That working with this magically is easier for me is probably telling as to where my mind lies as a storyteller.
Another interesting dimension to all this is how much, in the modern era, we've become accustomed to - even addicted to - the ability to reach anyone, anywhere. In old movies and stories, one of the first events isolates the characters from the rest of the world. In practical terms, this serves the purpose of cutting them off, making them rely on themselves and each other ... but nowadays, I think, there's another level of fear and anxiety.
Regardless, the inciting need remains: cut the characters off from easy answers. How do you do that when the answers aren't just in the palm of their head, but in an implant in their head? There are a lot of intriguing options there, but it's a route I have yet to much explore ...