Weekly Workout: Out of One’s Era

I like technology. I’m no techno whiz, but I can get a pretty good geek on. Sometimes, though, the pace of technological advancement astonishes me. It’s overwhelming. I keep joking that one of these days I’m just going to put my foot down and say, That’s it, no more, I’m staying here. Others have. I know people who refuse to text. I know people who won’t shop online. I know people who will never, ever, ever get rid of their stereos or watch TV online.

I’m not saying this is a bad thing. I mean, I plan on being the writer on the panel at some future convention who goes, “[insert new technology]? No, I don’t do that kind of thing.”

Who cares if I write speculative fiction? I’ve met plenty of science fiction authors who don’t use modern technology. Why would they need to? They live elsewhere, and I do most of the time, too.

I’m sure many people get impatient with the man holding up the line because he doesn’t have a cell phone to show his electronic ticket and what the heck is an electronic ticket anyway? But this could be a great character.

(UPDATED NOTE: I’m not speaking of a character who doesn’t have access to technology and would like to embrace it, but rather someone who has stopped in time while the world moves ahead without them.)

by Stefan Zsaitsits

by Stefan Zsaitsits

The exercise I came up with for today is just for the fun of it. You don’t need to be working on anything whatsoever right now, just jump on in.

In my writing group yesterday, one of our writers said, Just give me a line, I want to write something. Out of that line, she came up with a household of characters in five minutes. This inspired me to create an exercise where at least one new character was manifested.

And, btw, if you ever do use any of these exercises and want to share the results, feel free to add a link to it in the comment section.


The image I have is of a character out of his or her era. You know, they haven’t changed styles in 30 years. They get upset because they can’t get this item or that service they used to get 10 years ago (what do you mean I can’t buy film for my camera?). They might express anger when what they really are is afraid. Maybe they are afraid of becoming obsolete, afraid of falling behind, of becoming a victim, of losing themselves in the past, of being forgotten…

This could run from the realistic to the ridiculous – like someone stuck in the 1980’s or the 1800’s or someone in a futuristic society hundreds of years from now.  And it doesn’t have to be about technology, just the idea of staying put and being afraid.

1) SET YOUR TIMER for 7-10 minutes.

Start with the line: S/he just stood there, staring at it like …

Write without stopping, crossing out, rereading, or editing.

2) SET YOUR TIMER for 10-12 minutes.

Start with the line: Deep down s/he was afraid of …

Write without stopping, crossing out, rereading, or editing.

3) SET YOUR TIMER for 15-20 minutes.

Write a SCENE (action/dialogue – no description) in which your Out of Era character CONFRONTS his/her daughter, son, neighbour, store clerk, etc (someone younger than s/he is) and this fear emerges.

DO NOT LABEL THIS FEAR, HAVE YOUR CHARACTER ACT FROM THAT SPACE. (i.e. He does not say, “But I’m so afraid you’ll forget about me). Question, misdirect, accuse, or something else, just don’t come out and say it on the nose.

Start with the line: Character X throws the [object] down like a child and …

Write without stopping, crossing out, rereading, or editing

*     *     *

If you are a blogger who would like to post your own weekly workout exercise with me every Monday, please write to info (at) danikadinsmore.com


Filed under Character - Action, weekly workout, writing exercises

6 responses to “Weekly Workout: Out of One’s Era

  1. Fine if you have good cell tower coverage and a high-speed internet connection.

  2. Ah, yes, you got me there. I am definitely writing this from a city-girl perspective.

    I added a note above: I’m not speaking of a character who doesn’t have access to technology and would like to embrace it, but rather someone who has stopped in time while the world moves ahead without them.

    And this isn’t, like I said, a good or a bad thing. It’s just about creating a character.

    Thanks for helping me to clarify with your comment, Sueann!

  3. Great exercise and right up my WIP character! Fun!

  4. This is very realistic when you think of elderly people and how much technology has changed in the past 10 years plus. It took my mother forever to embrace email, and I remember how she changed because of it. Great exercise!

    • Technology moves so fast, it’s no wonder people can get overwhelmed. My mother, who is generally an independent woman, can turn into a petulant child when I try to show her stuff on the computer. (Hi, Mom, you know I love you)

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