Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Dating Your Work

No, that title is not meant to reference inter-office love affairs or being married to one's work. It's meant more carbon dating.

To me, researching things is half the fun of writing. I like to find those nuggets that make a scene feel real, those mild-mannered details that are more than the sum of their parts and do something for the characterization of the people or places in the story.

If you're writing about a stylish vampire stuck in the 80's he might well have a Member's Only jacket or parachute pants or a Sony Walkman. A more recent fang-convert, or just about any teen, might be all about Ugg boots or their iPhone. Often, name brands aren't necessary and would only serve to clot the reader's mental picture with logos you aren't getting kickbacks for. Saying your character pulled on his "work jeans" or "khakis" or even just "pants" as he rushed out the door creates a sufficient picture. But sometimes making sure the reader knows Joe is wearing his dad's hand-me-down jacket is more important.

My advice: if you are naming something by it's brand, there must be a reason. As long as that reason isn't to pad your word count, and as long as you keep in mind that such details are a spice and not the main dish,  you're probably okay.

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