Sunday, August 28, 2011

Gadgets and Gizmos in Your Stories

How many gadgets and gizmos do you have in your novels and short stories? If you write science fiction or steampunk, my guess is--quite a few. Still, even if you write say, mystery or historical fiction, you might enjoy including a funky techno doodad, as long as it's in line with your era/genre.

While researching I stumbled upon this article by Rob Temple, called "10 Historic Gadget Flops." Brilliantly researched, the article features some real loser inventions, such as the machine invented in 1927 that takes x-rays to determine a person's shoe size. But for writers, these flops are inspirational gems.

You could write a horror story featuring "The Finger Stretcher." It sounds like a torture device, but it isn't.

Or maybe the dirigible pilot in your steampunk story wears something based on the 1920's wrist watch navigator system which holds itty-bitty maps.

Hat Tipper


My favorite gadget in the article is the hat tipper. I don't know how or if I'll include it (or something similar) in my WIP, but if I can't see one in person, I sure would like to see it in a book. Then again, maybe I'll invent a hat taker-offer for certain young men I know who won't remove their hats at the table. Hmm...

11 comments:

Giles Hash said...

I love little gadgets in the books I read. I even threw some fun ones into the first book I finished.

I'm not sure what kind of gadgets I'm going to use in my next book, but I like the idea of inventing weird stuff! :D

Kara Hartz said...

Growing up, we had this great board game called "The Inventors". It was all about old, weird, pointless inventions. I think the hat tipper was one of the inventions the game used too.
http://magisterrex.wordpress.com/2010/04/13/the-best-classic-board-games-the-inventors-1974/
I'll have to see if my folks kept that game. It was fun!

stu said...

I'm a fan of devices that can simply be described as Devices. Stick the capital letter in, and they can do what they like.

Joylene said...

Great question. Made me realize that even as a suspense writer I still love to add one or two gadgets just to spice things up. Especially when there's an investigation. All the DNA techno gadgets make the story fascinating.

Amanda Borenstadt said...

@Giles~ Very cool. I had a character who was fond of gadgets in my previous book, but they were all real things. In my current work I'm trying to invent some things.

@Kara~ Nifty! If your parents still have the game, you should so play it with your girls! :)

@Stu~ LOL I love it!!! Devices with a capital "D". Reminds me of Douglas Adams in Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency. "The Door was The Way. Good. Capital letters were always the best way of dealing with things you didn't have a good answer to."

@Joylene~ Exactly! Technology in is perfect in that context! :)

Lydia K said...

This is the part of steampunk that I'd find so much fun to write about--the inventions.

nissa_loves_cats said...

I have a computer log-in device where you strap your arm into the device, it takes a drop of your blood, runs a DNA analysis to confirm your identity, and logs you in. Used for a police computer system.

But it doesn't work for vampires as vampire blood doesn't have individual DNA, though it can be confirmed that it's vampire blood. So if a vampire has to have access to the secure police computer, there is another device where the vampire's arm is strapped in to one input, and a human cop into another. The machine confirms the vampire's a vampire, and the identity of the human, then the human logs the vampire in to the system. And then the human cop has to sit there strapped in until the vampire's done. Human cops hate that, but they hate pissing vampires off even more.

Amanda Borenstadt said...

@Lydia~ Yes, totally! :)

@Nissa~ LOL, that's so cool! :D

Shelley HW said...

I love some of the gizmos you've listed. It makes my imagination seem dull.

By the way, I'm passing on an award, the appreciated follower award.

Amanda Borenstadt said...

Oh Shelley, your imagination is not dull! And thank you so much for the award! :)

Diomar said...

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