View Full Version : information on flash drive that plugs into usb port.

08-01-2009, 07:23 PM

I need any and all information on a flash drive, which plugs into a usb port. It plays an important part in my WIP. I call this flash drive a memory stick. During a crit, the critter said I needed to explain what it is and what it does. So here I am. Asking those very questions. Thank you for any info in advace.


08-01-2009, 07:30 PM
It acts as a solid-state computer disk drive (no moving parts). It comprises memory that keeps its contents intact when powered off.


08-01-2009, 08:08 PM
Often called thumb drives, although that may be a trademarked name by the Lexar company, which is a major manufacturer. Technically, they are information storage devices, not "memory" devices ("memory" and "storage" are quite different animals). "Memory sticks" is a term generally applied to the memory devices installed inside your computer. USB flash drives are so ubiquitous these days that I'm surprised your critter felt the need to have them explained. In fact, I'd argue against it, on the basis that you wouldn't need to explain a floppy disk or a hard drive or a mouse, and what those things do. In a story if someone is driving a car, as a reader I don't need an explanation of the transmission or steering wheel.

Call the thing a USB flash drive, and it's a rare reader who won't know what that is.


Mr Flibble
08-01-2009, 08:32 PM
Depends where you are

Thumb drive is more US, but may confuse most Brits
Memory stick is pretty common in the UK ( the memory inside the PC is RAM) but that may not be common in teh States.

Flash drive / USB drive seems to be all over.

Put it like this: Even my 76 year old Dad knows what one is. He can't figure out how to use it....But the bird is right. Most people will know what it is, provided you use a more global term, so resist the urge to explain.

08-01-2009, 09:26 PM
Short-timer's stick (aka "memory stick") When a soldier has approximately two months remaining on a tour of duty, he or she often fashions a baton to cut off a notched portion each day until nothing is left but a stub.
Once in this forum someone asked something about RPGs. I answered what I knew about rocket propelled grenades and was told the question concerned roll-play games.

Sometime a bit of a clue helps with slang terms and initials.

08-01-2009, 09:28 PM
Heh. I call 'em 'pen drives' and one features quite heavily in my just-edited-now-with-betas novel.

I just call it a pen drive and leave the reader to fill in the blanks.

08-01-2009, 10:07 PM
What genre are you writing? The reason I ask is because it should pinpoint your general readership, and I'd think most people know what a flash drive is and what it does.

Maybe this is something that could wait until publication and see what an editor has to say about describing it.

08-01-2009, 10:34 PM
Thank you all very much. This will help me with my edit and rewrite alot.


08-01-2009, 11:11 PM
Heh. I call 'em 'pen drives' and one features quite heavily in my just-edited-now-with-betas novel.

I just call it a pen drive and leave the reader to fill in the blanks.

That's a term I haven't heard on the left side of the pond.


08-02-2009, 12:07 AM
I've always called it a "key"...

08-02-2009, 12:26 AM
I work in the television/media industry, here in SillyCone Valley - and EVERYBODY carries and uses them. The most often used term here is 'thumb drive' followed by 'memory stick' and 'flash drive'. Almost never hear 'USB drive/stick' used in conversational terms, but I do see it used a lot in written terms (emails and such).

Linda Adams
08-02-2009, 02:33 AM
Just as a note, they can be put in a lot of different things. I've seen a guy who had one inside his watch band. He just opened a velcro flap, pulled out the cable, and plugged it in. Did seem a little inconvenient, though, given that it was attached to him.

As a promotional item, one conference distributed flash drives inside what looked like fat pens with the corporate logo.

And I saw one in the last two weeks that was the size of five staples--it was that small!

I've also heard them called Keychain drives, though flash drive is what they have been called during news stories.

08-02-2009, 02:36 AM
Yeah, I've got a 'bracelet'from a conference that becomes a flashdrive - the whole thing is made of a rubber like material, with the corporate logo on it. They are the new keychain/logo 'gimmes' at conferences now. Kinda handy actually.

08-02-2009, 02:58 AM
I just wanted to add- I don't think you need to explain what a flashdrive is- as blackbird said- it is nearly a universal term- I would feel talked down to if an author felt the need to explain this too me.

08-02-2009, 03:10 AM
I also don't think you need to explain what a flash drive is or how it works. Most people know what they are. In fact, many teachers, including myself, require their students to purchase a flash drive at the beginning of the school year as a required material. I've never once had a kid or a parent ask what they are.

08-02-2009, 03:26 AM
The one in my wip is attached to a necklace chain and worn around one's neck. My son in law has one like that. It's where I got the idea.

Thanks again to all

08-02-2009, 03:45 AM

Barb D
08-02-2009, 04:44 AM
I'll be another to disagree with your critter. I think most people know what a flash drive is. You could say, "He plugged the flash drive into the USB port of his laptop and saved the file onto it," and even someone who had never heard of one would know what it was for.

08-02-2009, 05:37 AM
I'll be another to disagree with your critter. I think most people know what a flash drive is.

I think most agree to the commonality of flash drive. However, the term used, says the original poster, was "memory stick."

08-02-2009, 08:53 AM
I think most agree to the commonality of flash drive. However, the term used, says the original poster, was "memory stick."
I think that's even better - that term is generic, so the novel won't read as dated or out-of-date in a few years (like, when it gets PUBLISHED...) when "flash drives" are replaced by something else (such as a bluetooth-enabled memory device you can access from the computer while it stays in your pocket).

I think "memory stick" is a near-perfect name (and unlike blacbird I see a lot of overlap in the use of the terms memory and storage, regardless of what the original technical meanings might have been).

"She sent the file to the memory stick coded with her name in it in her purse."

Or maybe that's explaining too much detail - just state what happened and let the reader fill in how details might be handled:

"She sent the file to the memory stick in her purse." And get on with the story.

08-02-2009, 03:35 PM
Perhaps the term has been generalized to the point where this doesn't matter (like Kleenex), but Memory Stick used to refer to a proprietary Sony flash memory device, released in the late 90s. It was a much thinner device than most of the flash drives you see today (always reminded me of a stick of chewing gum) and required a specialized slot in the device. It was supposed to be the Next Big Thing but I gather that, like a number of it's other dedicated-interface brethren, it was killed by the now ubiquitous USB devices that can be used in pretty much any computer you encounter these days.

The one big advantage of the device, from my perspective, was that most of it disappeared into the machine when used. I don't know if anyone else has had the experience of having a mishap snap a USB drive off when it was in the machine, leaving the connector in the slot, but I have ;-).

Linda Adams
08-02-2009, 04:36 PM
Most of the people I deal with don't call it a flash drive--they call it a memory stick. Technically incorrect, but it's the term they use.