"Text 'M' for Murder"

ronbutters at AOL.COM ronbutters at AOL.COM
Mon Apr 13 15:18:05 UTC 2009

People drop their cell phones in the toilet all the time. And leave their chargers at the Hilton. People who can't plot around technology shouldn't be writers. Science fiction has no problem with technology that hasn't even been invented yet. Agatha Christie worked around the land-line phone.
------Original Message------
From: Dennis Baron
Sender: ADS-L
ReplyTo: ADS-L
Subject: [ADS-L] "Text 'M' for Murder"
Sent: Apr 12, 2009 8:23 PM

There's a new post on the Web of Language:

"Text 'M' for Murder"

Matt Richtel writes in the New York Times that the mobile phone has
thrown a wrench into literary plotting. Thanks to digital technology,
a simple text message would tell Romeo – spoiler alert – that Juliet
was only sleeping. Rick would know right away that Ilsa was running
late. And Kevin’s parents would discover that he was home, alone.

If Richtel’s complaint is true, then mobile telephony means no more
star-crossed lovers, missed connections, or lost children, and no
remakes of some movie greats. If Ray Milland wants to murder his wife,
a phone call won’t bring her to the writing desk, where the killer
waits behind a curtain, since her cell phone is probably on her
nightstand. Want Shane to return? Just press 5 to leave your callback
number. Want  to know what Rosebud means? Google it.

Richtel argues that some of today's writers feel more comfortable
writing historical fiction because a lot of older technology worked so
slowly that it was useless for advancing plot. But for anything set in
the present, the fact of all-email-texts-and-internet, all-the-time,
means that characters are never out of touch and information is just a
click away: Deborah Kerr can text Cary Grant from the E.R.; Gilligan
can google.map his way off the island; and Scarlett O’Hara can take
the “Which Civil War general are you?” Facebook quiz tomorrow . . .

read the rest of this digitally-enhanced post on the Web of Language:  http://illinois.edu/goto/weboflanguage

Dennis Baron
Professor of English and Linguistics
Department of English
University of Illinois
608 S. Wright St.
Urbana, IL 61801

office: 217-244-0568
fax: 217-333-4321


read the Web of Language:

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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