Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Trying Not to Date Yourself

How much pop culture and/or current references do you put in your work? Do you fear dating the material versus giving the story a sense of immediacy?

First, Happy new year everyone.  I hope you all had a great Christmas.  I certainly did.  My family went to Mont Tremblant (near Montreal) for a ski vacation.  All my children were there, which is a big deal as they all have to fly into Ontario from the various places around the world where they are currently living.

To this week’s question.  Pop cultural references.  I do try to use them.  I figure I’m not writing works of classic literature that will be studied for generations to come; I’m writing books to be read now, and then hopefully the reader will look forward to the next one next year.
However, come to think of it, if I was writing works of classic literature… putting in some pop cultural references would be a good thing, wouldn’t it? Doesn’t one read Charles Dickens or Jane Austin to get a taste of the times in which they lived?

I do have one handicap in the pop culture references department.  Molly Smith is in her twenties.  I am not. After a couple of instances of my daughters roaring with laughter when Molly or her contemporaries said something that my friends and I might have said (e.g. He’s such a doll!) I have learned to seek outside advice when trying to be ‘hip’.  In particularly Molly’s musical tastes are definitely not mine.  I love Bruce Springsteen, she’s more an Amy Winehouse or Adele sort of girl.  (I love them too, come to think of it, and was introduced to them by my own daughters).  If I want a Springsteen reference, I give it to Molly’s mom, Lucky.  Now, she knows the same the pop cultural references as me.

So yes, I try to drop in a few cultural references, because I believe that helps the reader ground themselves in the here-and-now of the story.  It’s hard to write a contemporary-set story without dating yourself anyway, I think. Lucky drives a Corolla, not a Studebaker.  

1 comment:

Sue Ann Jaffarian said...

Vicki, I've had the same problem when writing a much younger character - cultural age ignorance. I usually run questions by some of the young attorneys in my firm. In one book, I had one give me clothing, music and speech tips.