Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Wednesday Writing Tip: Is your story Timeless...or Dated?

Today's tip is to be careful of references that can date your manuscript.

Using brand names, the hottest musical artist, movie stars or movies, can come back to haunt your sales.

Just because a rock star has the biggest hit of the year doesn't mean they are going to have any more.  And five years from now it is, unfortunately, possible no one will remember their name.

That goes for social media sites, too.  In this day and age, the internet changes constantly.  Do you remember Myspace?  It was all the rage 12 or so years ago, everyone was on it and talking about it, and it was everywhere etc.  But you don’t hear about it anymore, right?  

Sure, Facebook seems strong now, but who is to say something won’t happen in the next five years to take it off the internet for the next best thing that comes along?

The issue with using specific brands, businesses, and people is not only concerns with copyright and other legalities, but more importantly, when a reader picks up your backlist ten years from now, using specific-to-the-moment references like Facebook or a one hit wonder artist whose name no one can remember, really dates your story, putting it back in time when it isn't meant to be a vintage or historical.

Readers picking up your back list in the future are not going to be the same people of today, so it is important whenever possible, and when not pertinent to your story, to keep non-important details neutral, generic, so your story can stay as contemporary as possible for any reader to pick up at any time in the future.

The less specific, year orientated details, the longer the story will last in the mind of the reader and new readers years from now.  You want them to recommend your book today, but also those readers of the future to continue to recommend your back list to their friends and coworkers so your sales can keep moving forward and not stall out on you because your story is too out of date.

Going generic when the specific details are not important won't hurt your story and will only help it to stay timeless.


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