1. cynthia_1968
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    cynthia_1968 Active Member

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    Do you think that it’s a problem if you use quotes or references from TV shows in your story?

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by cynthia_1968, Aug 26, 2014.

    Sometimes there are these situations where your character mentions something that was in the news, or television. I use this so now and then to bring the story closer to my audience and make it more vivid.

    Do you use the same techniques in your story or do you think it’s unwise to do?

    I’m looking forward to your reaction, since writing is a learning process, always.

    All the best,

    Cynthia
     
  2. stevesh
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    stevesh Banned Contributor

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    It depends, I guess, on what sort of story you're writing. I've never done as you suggested, but most of my stuff takes place in times other than the present, or the time setting is unknown. I'm not sure such a reference would make any story more vivid, though.
     
  3. cynthia_1968
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    cynthia_1968 Active Member

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    My stories sometimes come close to reality, when I mention short references to past events. I also do that, so now and then, with quotes from well known tv-shows.
     
  4. NanashiNoProfile
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    NanashiNoProfile Member

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    It might work if the story was released to readers within a short time frame that made the link to real life events/news/TV more relevant. In the same way that some films start with a reference to year, and it's all well and good if that is the same year you're watching it, but view it much later and depending on the subject matter it can feel a little more detaching for the viewer (you can no longer believe that this happened, because you know it didn't).

    The other way it might work would be if the links you include somehow tie in to the story (rather than be references) so they then feel more tangible because the reader is aware of what caused the events in your story and how they could potentially affect your characters.
     
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  5. Devlin Blake
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    Devlin Blake Member

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    I don't think it's a good idea. It dates your story. If you're planning on publishing, then you're planning for this story to be around for while, right? And if this reference won't make sense in 10, 20, 30, years, then don't use it. The exception of course is if your story is so dated that the the time period is an integral part of the plot.
     
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  6. chicagoliz
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    chicagoliz Contributing Member Contributor

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    As Devlin indicated, as a practical matter, it's best to be careful because it definitely dates your story, and unless the particular year is important to the story, it could make your story seem stale by the time it's read. Another potential issue is copyright - it's okay to reference a show or a character, but don't quote them directly.

    Also, if the reference conveys some sort of information, and is important to the story, there is the risk that your reader is not familiar with it, no matter how popular the show was. And if it's not important to the story or doesn't convey something important, you need to consider whether the reference is worth the word real estate it's occupying.
     
  7. cutecat22
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    cutecat22 The Strange One Contributor

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    I agree with @Devlin Blake

    Unless it has some direct relation to the story. Like, if it's a zombie story and there's a news story about the zombies.

    The other thing is, it will also date the technology so unless it's part of the story, maybe think if you really need it.

    If you really feel that a programme or catchphrase need to be in the story, then how about making one up?
     
  8. PensiveQuill
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    PensiveQuill Contributing Member

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    Fictional TV shows and news sure. But current ones, will date your story and eventually become lost in irrelevance. Anyone who referenced Friends in fiction would be really feeling it now.
     
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  9. jazzabel
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    jazzabel Contributing Member Contributor

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    Generally speaking, there is no detriment in anchoring a narrative in specific time. I'm just reading '1Q84', which is brilliant, and there's nothing whatsoever 'dated' about it. It's set in two worlds, the real and the fictional 1984, and it has quite a few time-specific references. You can do anything at all, style and content-wise, if it serves your story. As long as your writing can hold up your idea, reader won't mind.
     
  10. cutecat22
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    cutecat22 The Strange One Contributor

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    That's OK because it's set in 1984 so you would expect to read about things that happened in that era.

    I think what I mean is, well, the film Congo was released in 1995. I watched it, it scared me to death (yeah, I'm a whimp) and then a few years later I came across the book. I decided to get it and have a read as I'd already read a few Michael Crichton books and decided I liked the way he wrote (books are much better than the films), anyway, it wasn't until I picked up the book that I realised it was wrote in the seventies and published in 1980. There is no way I would have picked up from the book that it was wrote around the time I was born.

    Time does a funny thing to you depending on the era you were brought up. If I were reading a book that made reference to Larry Grayson on the TV in the background shouting "ooooo shut that door ..." then I would automatically assume the story was set in the seventies and everyone was wearing brown corduroy flares, orange shirts with massive winged collars and singing along to Bony M.

    Which is fine if the story is set in that era.

    I guess it all depends what you, as a writer, want to convey.
    If your story starts "Chapter One, Sheffield, 1985" then I might expect there to be some reference to the miners strikes but if your story starts "Chapter One, February, Present Day" then I would have in my minds eye, a cold possibly snowy day but with things around me that are around me now. I would not expect a new report about the miners strike!

    This is where books have the upper had over films, what you see in a film is automatically dated by the costumes/hairstyles of the characters (just look at the difference between the live action Scooby Doo one and Scooby Doo two) but with a book, you can leave it up to the reader unless you are writing about a specific time period.

    OK, I'm waffling again, I'll shut up now. ;-D
     
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  11. jazzabel
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    jazzabel Contributing Member Contributor

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    Just to be a devil's advocate, but you can encounter such a reference set in 2014. Some old guy in a pub might be saying it to everyone who enters, for example. So while it might date a character, it perhaps doesn't have to date the whole narrative.
     
    Last edited: Sep 30, 2014
  12. cutecat22
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    cutecat22 The Strange One Contributor

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    Very true!
     
  13. cynthia_1968
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    cynthia_1968 Active Member

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    I guess that it's safe to, sparely, use references to TV shows because it can trigger the imagination of your reader.....

    I will illustrate this, with the following dialogue I wrote:

    I think that most readers will think about Donald Duck who pushes the red"do not touch" button ;)
     
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  14. CastleEra
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    CastleEra Member

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    The only real danger in doing so is dating your writing, making it harder to digest in later years or having someone not understand. While it is almost a bet that most people have heard of or remember well loved characters, shows, or quotes; there may always be someone who doesn't understand what you are referencing. You most likely will not have to time to explain the context of the reference, even more so since you will be using it to try and help readers connect more with the character, situation or story as a whole. This may leave a select people lost, but then again, there will always be people who do not like or understand something you have written.

    The dating your writing is what I think is the real issue. Some quotes or lines may help establish the time period in which your story takes place, but they can also make it less accessible for readers. Watch old movies or read old stories that do nothing but quote and point of the pop-culture of the day, and you can just feel the age of the piece.

    References, in my experience, do nothing but remove your own hand from the writing. Even in movies or books that have such references, those reference are not what are the remembered bits. The unique, original words are what get quoted, not the quotes from other works. It's a small wire to tread upon, and it's easy to use them wrongly. Like all literary tools, a tool is effective if used correctly. If you think that the reference just makes the story, then go for it.
     
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  15. cutecat22
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    cutecat22 The Strange One Contributor

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    I like this idea (but can I be picky and say the word won't needs to be changed to wouldn't (she knew that looking at the light wouldn't hurt).

    But, if you wanted to keep the idea but get rid of the reference to a particular character/program then you could make the program a generic one, something along the lines of "yes, you know, that red button no-one should press but someone always does, you see it in all those movies. A big red button with the words 'do not push' and some idiot always does ..."
     
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  16. cynthia_1968
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    cynthia_1968 Active Member

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    Wow, I love it :pop:
     
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  17. Poziga
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    Poziga Contributing Member Contributor

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    I think it also depends on what kind of story you're writing. Usually I wouldn't use these references, unless they were in a context and would liven up the scene.

    But I wrote a short story in a from of diary entries for a contest on my uni. I think that's more personal and some things can define the character more thoroughly. The first sentence of the story was: "Well, the World cup is finally over, I think I must congratulate Croatia for a second place." (the story is happening in year 1998- FIFA in France)
    I don't know if that is a good way to start a story, but I did that. :D I also think that it immediately gives you a certain picture of the character.

    Your case is different though...I think you can mention it if it fits in the story. But not to many times. :)
     
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  18. mg357
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    mg357 Active Member

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    no I personally don't think its a problem in fact I am in the process of writing a short story where the main characters are brother and sister, the sister is a cop and she is killed in the line of duty.

    At one point during the sisters visitation the brother goes outside to get some fresh air, and the chief of police follows him and the chief recites a speech from the T.V. show Castle to the brother.
     
    Last edited: Oct 13, 2014
  19. Domino355
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    Domino355 Contributing Member

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    I'd suggest refrencing an ageless film (if it fits your story) or TV show. A Star Wars, Doctor Who, or Titanic refrence, for example, can be placed at any time between when the first movie/episode came out and today, and I'm sure that even in ten years, there will still be readers who watched those series, and if not, at least know of it.
     
  20. Delise
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    Delise Member

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    Like when Rachel from Animorphs talked about being confused with Rachel from Friends. I'm sure if kids read that now, they're not going to know who that is at all.
     
  21. Gasper
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    Gasper New Member

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    I'd agree that more often than not such references/quotes will just age your story. The same will probably apply to 'classic' films/shows, even it takes much longer before this happens. So I'd only use this device if you're writing a period drama...or potentially if you want to paint a (comic) character as having an obsession with a certain show/actor.
     
  22. Christine Ralston
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    Christine Ralston Active Member

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    Personally, I like it when an author does this. What does it matter if a story is "dated?" The story has to occur at some place and time. Stories are going to be influenced by the era they were written in that doesn't make them unreadable decades later. Many people of today still read classics that were written before they were even born.
     
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  23. Devlin Blake
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    Devlin Blake Member

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    Remember a show called Murphy Brown? (Ok, it's not a book, but sty with me.) In it's day, it was a great show, won all the awards, broke boundaries. I watched it when I was younger and loved it. Recently, I tried to watch it again, and it turns out it was completely unwatchable. I just didn't remember enough about the political climate to remember why I used to find this show so funny. Turns out there's a reason you almost never see it in reruns.
     
  24. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    Dang. I loved Murphy Brown.

    I assert that the house painter who stays forever doing touchups is a timeless joke, anyway.
     

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