Research & World Building by Sydney Salter

Research is my absolute favorite part of writing - I actually set a Stop Researching deadline when I start a new manuscript, otherwise I'd keep diving into learning more and more. I don't call my research world building, but that's what I'm figuring out: who is this story about and where does this story take place?

I've built worlds in the future, past, and present, and each provides unique challenges surrounding accuracy, inventiveness, and believability.

But the thing that's stuck me recently is how all of us born before 1995 need to learn about modern teens - things have dramatically changed with the invention of the smart phone. We can no longer solely rely on our own experiences to craft our characters.

I highly recommend these three books about how technology has altered the way teenagers think and interact with each other and the world.


  1. I was just thinking the other day how even my first book--which only came out 8 years ago--seems quaint technologically. As recently as that, it was still plausible that not every teen would have a cell phone. Social media were still in their infancy and weren't even mentioned in the book. Luckily the emotions and relationships in the story still ring true, but if I were writing it today, the technological landscape would be totally different, and several plot points would have to play out another way because people would be communicating differently.

    1. Great points, Jennifer. My first book came out in 2010 too--no social media, barely a mention of a cell phone. It's interesting to think about how it would be plotted if I wrote it today.

  2. We were just discussing pop culture in writing at my chapter meeting last month... For example, "closing a cell phone" is no longer relevant as few people have flip phones. Technology factors heavily into my stories, so I have to balance it against keeping it evergreen. I've begun keeping references to tech intentionally vague. For example, instead of saying 'She swiped at her cell phone screen, scrolling through dozens of contacts.' I might say something generic like 'She searched for the contact' so when the next generation of -- I don't know, embedded phone chips -- is released, the action is apparent, just not the steps to performing it.

  3. Beyond the ever-shifting technology, teens are changing the way they relate to each other and think. We're in interesting times.

  4. These are interesting times! Thanks for the book recommendations. I'm going to check them out!


Post a Comment