Writing: Thoughts about gadgets

Writers can do much with their imaginations. This includes various devices to help both sides of the conflict. These can be anything from small, useful things to devices that have a large-scale impact on what a character can do. They can even break a genre’s boundary, allowing something one could not normally do.

Before I go into some specifics of my writing, I’ll mention the obvious: the biggest potential for strange and useful devices is, obviously, in Sci-Fi. After all, there might be the ‘genius/mad scientist’ type characters that will do nothing else than sit in a lab creating those.

There are ways to break genre or time limitations. Harry Potter takes place in times before cell phones and while owls are reliable, the Order of Phoenix eventually started using the Patronus spell for communication – even though the spell’s complexity likely made it a daunting, emergency solution.

Continuing from that, I’ve used a different approach to long-distance communication in my work-in-progress: a magical trinket that can be used for exactly that purpose. However, to prevent characters from abusing it, I made it be demanding on both power and concentration so the characters use it only in need and for a short communication.

Another device I use in my story is making up for the lack of satellite navigation. It’s (in the current draft) called ‘arcane compass’ and, as the name suggests, it calculates the user’s position based on the world’s magical energy ‘bloodlines’ deep unferground.

Yet another problem characters might face, especially if sent on a long journey, is storage space. While Sci-Fi would probably solve that with a high-tech energy pill that could fill the body’s daily need for sustenance, I took a different approach, in an item named ‘black hole backpack’. Again, its name explains most of how it works: on the backpack’s bottom is a small portal to a spacious stash located elsewhere. Hence, what the user needs is to fill that stash with anything he or she might need and take just the backpack.

That’s what I have to share this time. I’ll welcome any comments on this matter. Is there some device that you like, whether in a book or movie? Do you use some in your writing? Feel free to share.

Note: superweapons were intentionally omitted from this post, they might get their own at some point.

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