1. Helga Rune

    Helga Rune New Member

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    Dialogue "Great movie quotes become part of our cultural vocabulary."

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Helga Rune, Apr 18, 2016.

    'May the force be with you.' 'I'll be back!' 'Houston, we have a problem.' 'Elementary, my dear Watson.' 'Hasta la vista, baby.' 'E.T. phone home.' 'Here's looking at you, kid.' The list of such quotes is endless.

    They're used by the young and old (sometimes slightly modified) day in day out, in fact, my son text me the other day with...'HR phone home.' And the guy that came to fix the boiler last Wednesday sort of looked at me with a knowing smile and said...'I'll be back.' Seems there was a part missing from the repair kit he'd brought with him.
    On Sunday morning while standing in the reception of my local, over priced, health resort (swimming pool and a box room called a fitness room) I overheard a conversation (polite way of saying argument) between an elderly couple who were standing but a meter or so in front of me. Apparently the gentleman had left his wallet behind and so was receiving a truck load of GBH to his ears from his partner when he suddenly let fly with...'Beam me up for Christ's sake Scotty. And yes, there was meany a smile to be seen. The funny thing is, I kept thinking about that and the fact that we use these quotes so spontaneously. But; what about in our books? Can we be as free? Does...'Fair usage' cover such gems? Do we need to modify in such a way as to hold the theme but not the actual words? Can we call someone 'Yoda' in a way that's meant to show/imply that we think the person we're referring to is somewhat knowledgeable?
    Just my thoughts while enjoying a Martini the sauna.

    HR.
     
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  2. Oscar Leigh

    Oscar Leigh Contributor Contributor

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    I don't think cultural references are threatened by copyright. I've seen many of them in fiction. It's hardly something people seem to be afraid of. So probably not.
     
  3. A man called Valance

    A man called Valance Senior Member

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    "What we've got here is failure to communicate" - Cool Hand Luke
     
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  4. ChickenFreak

    ChickenFreak Contributor Contributor Community Volunteer

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    I think that it's reasonably safe to use short quotes that aren't song lyrics. Song lyrics seem to be more dangerous.

    Another risk, however, is the possibility of dating your work. In Agatha Christie's Why Didn't They Ask Evans, a character says, "I get you, Steve." (I think that was the quote.) No one involved was named Steve. I assume that this was a popular quote that the author thought would live on, but it didn't. It's slightly confusing.

    (It's also possible that this is British slang that did live on, and I'm not aware of it as an American.)
     
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  5. Cave Troll

    Cave Troll Writing is a form of Sadomasochism. :P Contributor

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    @ChickenFreak That is an odd quote: I get you, Steve. I don't follow on how it could be a quote period. Holds no value unless the one they are talking to is named Steve.

    @Helga Rune I think it is ok to make references to well known characters, just over do it. I use Tweedles Dee and Dum in a negative context in a scene that is calling two random tertiary characters almost being allowed to destroy a private installation. :p
     

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