Socioeconomic Status

            How much money someone has affects the things that he does, thinks, and says. It impacts future dreams and the things that she hopes to accomplish.

For example, a person who grows up in a wealthy family has everything that she could ever possibly want. Nice clothes, a comfortable bed, good food and all the electronics that one could possibly want. He may attend a private school with other entitled children so never knows what it’s like to have class disrupted by unruly students or may have never witnessed a lunchtime brawl.

This character grows into an adult with distinct advantages in terms of status, education and outlook. He has experienced nothing but the best and desires to maintain that status.

Then consider the low income child who grows up in a tiny studio apartment with eight family members. Who is often hungry and wears ragged hand-me-down shoes and clothes. Who falls ill frequently or has to accompany non-English speaking relatives to appointments to act as translator and so misses great amounts of school.

Perhaps she moves around a lot, from one shelter to another, and so schools change weekly. Most shelters are in low income neighborhoods so she does not have access to modern technology in terms of computer labs, WiFi and calculators. School lunches are adequate, probably free, but not delicious. She knows of students who come to school high on drugs, who sell their bodies and who are bellicose.

Think about how these differing early lives affect how your character behaves in your story.

Your task is to decide into which socioeconomic group your character belongs. Then make a bullet-point list of the structures in this person’s life, beginning with the home environment. Consider size of the home, family living there, quality of food and clothes, and what possessions the character owns. Include on your list the things the character sees in his daily life, as he walks down the street, rides in a car or bus, goes into a store, eats at a soup kitchen or restaurant.

Once you have completed your list, write a short scene in which these elements come into play.

This is not an easy task.

Have fun with this one.

No Technology

My computer crashed yesterday, the one where I sit and do my writing. All my work is sitting on an external hard drive that I cannot access. Thank goodness I have a flash drive and some of my work is saved to the cloud.

I have no cell phone, but I do own an iPad, so I can still do many of the things that I want to do.

But what if I didn’t? What if the world suddenly went dark due to a glitch of some kind, and there is no Internet, no cell phones, no iPad or other devices. Imagine how frustrating and limiting that would feel.

Your task is to write that story. Don’t go back in time before all those devices had been created. Write a contemporary piece that deals with the cravings, the intense need that people feel. The hollowness inside. The inability to connect with friends and family on facebook or Instagram or twitter.

What does your character do to fill in the time? Write letters by hand? Draw or color? Go jogging or for a brisk walk around the block? Go to a café or coffeehouse and sit with other bereft strangers?

This is your task.

Have fun with this one.


Don’t Forget Tech

Today’s world is filled with all kinds of gadgets, from cell phones that act as cameras to low-energy appliances that do our laundry and dishes. Almost every day we read of new advances in technology, many meant to improve lives and expand capabilities.

If you are writing contemporary literature, your characters must interact with the technology of the day. Consider everyday activities such as stepping on a digital scale, loading the dishwasher, turning on the computer. Watching HD television and carrying around thousands of our favorite songs. Reading books on hand-held devices. Playing video games in 3-D and even exercising along with animated creations that run, jump and bicycle in time to your movements.

People love their devices and cannot imagine quality life without them, so include them in your stories. They check their phones constantly for emails and texts. They walk around with ear buds, barely paying attention to where they are going. Players go to competitions in which masters compete against monsters on the screen as well as against each other.High schools have robotics teams that build, compete and destroy other machines.

Your task is to write a scene in which your character uses at least five different modern pieces of technology. Be creative. Don’t put them all in one paragraph, but find a way to logically place the tech in the scene. Don’t be afraid to use cutting-edge tech to accomplish tasks that have yet to be programmed.

Have fun with this one.

Good luck.