This morning on NPR I heard that, due to severe inflation and rising costs of food, people in Saudi Arabia are encouraging each other to boycott milk via text messages. Consider how new technology and different forms of communication influence your stories. Robinson Crusoe might have felt alone on a desert island, but today your characters can sit on a remote beach and conduct business or catch up with friends over a mobile.
Try learning more about the tools your characters can use to keep in touch. If you don't have a cell phone, borrow or use a prepaid phone for a week. How does it feel knowing you can always be contacted? Try joining myspace, facebook, or other another social networking site. In what ways does it help or hinder your ability to build friendships? Alternately, if you haven't written a letter since the third grade, try it. Notice if and how you write differently in a letter vs. an email. Wait to see how the friend you send the letter to responds; does the letter mean more to him than an email would have? Does she write back by snail or e-mail?
VARIATION: Take a course in another language, or chat with a friend whose first language is different than yours. What expressions exist in Italian but not in English, and vice versa? What does this say about the culture the language evolved in? What is easier to express in your language and what is easier to express in the other? Listen to the sounds of the language; are they sensuous? gentle? rough? musical? Try writing a character whose first language is different than yours.
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