Unless you are writing a thriller its always been the case that its usual to find some way of writing out the police, or have your protagonists in some way resolve the plot without the need for them. It can however be a challenge to maintain a level of believability as regards police absence, incompetence. In recent years the same can be said for mobile phones. As an example of which, think how different Swallows & Amazons would have been if they had had mobile phones or GPS units (notwithstanding that John, Susan, Roger and Titty would probably not have been allowed to go off alone like that these days)?
I had an interesting discussion with Rhiannon Lassister this afternoon about mobile phones in stories, and I think that I might be coming round to the idea that they are not such the threat that could be. In fact, Rhiannon demonstrates quite neatly in Ghost of a Chance how you can have both mobile phones and police in the story whilst keeping them as essentially ineffective to the protagonists resolving the plot.
Enid Blyton’s The Famous Five or …of Adventure books are other books I had previously thought would be ruined by mobile phones, but I think Rhiannon might be causing me to rethink this. After all, as she says, there are always to right them out if necessary. In Blyton’s books they spent a large amount of time down in caves where mobiles don’t work. And if you are working with magic, or you can get through to people who may not be able to help, or help in time…
Indeed in my own books I both write out mobile phones and embrace the modern technology in The End of All Worlds. When I need them, scientists can access the most up to date climate theories but when Eleanor gets lost in the mountains, mobiles can be out of reception, or completely in another world when it comes to mixing with the huldufolk. And in Mr Tumnal I positively enjoy going to town with social networking and modern communication.
So maybe, mobiles are not the threat to plots that I once thought.