1. Commander Vimes
    Offline

    Commander Vimes New Member

    Joined:
    Jul 30, 2013
    Messages:
    8
    Likes Received:
    3

    Referencing the Real world

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Commander Vimes, Sep 28, 2016.

    So I have a novel, on-going, in which I have a main protagonist who enjoys films and TV and likes to think about and reference things from this medium.

    So for one example, at one stage, whilst he is standing outside a building in the gloom of a streetlight, he likens himself to the iconic poster from the Exorcist film.

    My problem/query comes with what, if anything, can I reference from popular culture and have publishable in a book? Film/Tv titles? Names of Characters in Films/TV? Song titles?

    Can I get away with saying stuff like ...'It was like that scene from Total Recall, where the guy had a baby strapped to his chest. No, he thought, it wasn't a baby it was a wrinkly man. Either way, it was a bit like that, apart from the gross bits and the bit where he gets shot.....
     
    cydney likes this.
  2. Steerpike
    Offline

    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 5, 2010
    Messages:
    11,054
    Likes Received:
    5,256
    Location:
    California, US
    This is generally fine. You might alienate some readers who don't get the references if you do it too often, but a judicious amount can please readers who recognize the references and won't bother most of the ones who don't.
     
  3. cydney
    Offline

    cydney Banned

    Joined:
    Jul 31, 2016
    Messages:
    1,246
    Likes Received:
    708
    Location:
    Sydney, Australia
    Exorcist: scariest movie of all time!

    You're asking a good question. I'd think in a story or a novel you could get away with it if you didn't use that particular reference too much. Especially if the story is in first person? I don't know, really. Wouldn't bother me, as a reader.
     
  4. Commander Vimes
    Offline

    Commander Vimes New Member

    Joined:
    Jul 30, 2013
    Messages:
    8
    Likes Received:
    3
    Thanks for advice. I was hoping to use it as a tool to further accentuate the differences between his view on the world and the characters he is interacting with, whilst also giving a few humourous references.

    I was wary of putting in too many references that may not be too accessible, but at the moment am trying to stick with only very recognisable (iconic even) references such as the Excorcist, Star Trek etc.

    I think at the moment I have about 3 of these types of interjections within the novel. So will bear in mind not to flog the proverbial dead horse when it comes to this.
     
    cydney likes this.
  5. cydney
    Offline

    cydney Banned

    Joined:
    Jul 31, 2016
    Messages:
    1,246
    Likes Received:
    708
    Location:
    Sydney, Australia
    To be honest, it sounds like something I would do - IF I wrote novels, short stories, etc. Your comment above sounds good & interesting, to me! - a little bit of everything. A nice balance. :)
     
  6. cydney
    Offline

    cydney Banned

    Joined:
    Jul 31, 2016
    Messages:
    1,246
    Likes Received:
    708
    Location:
    Sydney, Australia
    Just don't be too mean to your nice characters. ;)
     
  7. xanadu
    Offline

    xanadu Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Oct 21, 2008
    Messages:
    552
    Likes Received:
    407
    Location:
    Cave of Ice
    Referencing titles, events, characters, etc from pop culture should be fine. I'm sure an agent or publisher would raise concerns if it's an issue when you get to that point.

    I would strongly advise against quoting passages, lyrics, lines, etc, however, as that can get tricky from a legal standpoint.
     
  8. EdFromNY
    Offline

    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Jun 13, 2010
    Messages:
    4,681
    Likes Received:
    2,533
    Location:
    Queens, NY
    Quoting actual lyrics is a copyright infringement. Ditto with actual lines, unless they are generic enough that they could have come from anywhere. Titles and characters are not subject to copyright but CAN be trademarked.

    The real danger, as @Steerpike pointed out, is in the readers who miss the reference. Then again, Nick Hornby wrote an entire novel full of such references (High Fidelity) so there you go. If this is your first attempt at a novel, I'd say go ahead and write it however you want to write it, as it may well wind up being a step in the learning process. If you actually get to the point of pitching it, you can revisit the issue then.
     
    xanadu likes this.
  9. cydney
    Offline

    cydney Banned

    Joined:
    Jul 31, 2016
    Messages:
    1,246
    Likes Received:
    708
    Location:
    Sydney, Australia
    I've been trying to remember this post/thread. 'World' is the key. I reference the 'real world' all the time. Off topic maybe. Just sayin' . :)
     

Share This Page