Writing Prompt: Modern Tech in Ancient Times

Written by Laura MacLemale | July 9, 2014

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Today, technological devices are a part of our daily existence, especially for us writers. Telephones and fax machines were considered the ultimate in modern technology. Now they have taken a backseat to even more upgraded communication devices such as Skype, DVRs, and voice-activated writing software. Is there anything you can’t do with your Smartphone or your iPad?

Your prompt today is to imagine any modern technological device in the hands of a historical character. The character can be real or fictional, and set in any time period. What would your chosen character do with the device? How would he or she react to it? What would be the underlying purpose of this character using this particular technology?

The details will all come from your head. You may draw from a historical perspective or select a literary character from a distinct time and place. For example, how would some of our earlier American presidents have reacted to modern face-to-face communication software such as Skype or Facetime? Would gregarious Andrew Jackson have found it to be a fascinating means of communication? Would the more private Abraham Lincoln have seen it as offensive or intrusive?

Or what would a Shakespearean character do when finding an iPad in his or her hand? Could you write a soliloquy that he or she might deliver? What if the Bronte sisters had access to voice-activated writing software? Would their classic novels be changed in any way?

What might the ancient Greeks have thought of modern-day social media? How might they use it as a communication tool? Or consider Edgar Allen Poe’s interpretation of social media. Would his well-documented paranoia be affected by this concept, the tools, or their use?

So, your task is to write a short story, essay, or poem about your character and his or her reaction to a modern-day technological device in your own style and tone. Enjoy letting your ideas flow, and write accordingly!