Dating Temptation

There are things that can date my writing faster than a blink of an eye. Trends. Objects, clothes, hairstyles, jewelry makeup, music, technology and more. The list can go on. The point is that historically speaking certain things are associated with certain time-periods.

My book takes place in modern day with a slight futuristic hint. If I were writing a historical piece or something set to a specific era I would perhaps use some jargon, sayings or events to set the time and setting. When doing that I would research and take the time to make sure I’m not talking about websites before they were invented or hashtags before the term was coined. Clumsy writing without facts or research will cause the story to stumble and fall. If I were writing to a specific point in time I would also be cautious about using repeated trends such as bell-bottoms and crimped hair.

However, for me and the purpose of this post I’m talking about keeping it vague and casual so that no specific time other than now is perceived. Sure it will be dated eventually, but if I can manage to keep out anything trendy now like hipsters, skinny jeans and the latest app. That’s not to say I don’t include dated objects or events. I’ll mention them as a reference and maybe a comment about “Hey that’s like…” or “Do you remember when … that was cool?” Major world events are safe to use as reference but I’ll keep the amount of time between then and what is written.

I’ve been asked why I do this. Simple, I was taught to and I like it. It makes sense to me since I’m not writing a historical story. I took a course that explained in detail the importance of keeping current trends out of my writing to keep it from becoming dated or ‘lame’ in younger readers minds. Now again if I want it to be dated (which I don’t) plopping pop up trends is the way to go. This is after all how cult favorites are born.  So, I don’t bring up specific events such as an election or terrorist attack, nor would I mention disasters or Olympics. Things that are time specific.

Technology is tricky it changes and evolves so fast that to mention something specific is risky. I do mention laptops and tablets, because they have been around long enough and are likely to be around a while longer that I don’t consider them pop up trends. Things like I-pod’s, cd-players, VHS, Tamagotchi, Sega-Genesis are definitely dated. Personal computer’s have been around long enough they are safe to use, I generally just use a generic term like computer and leave the brand out. So Mac or PC is not mentioned.  However I might say Gaming-console or even PlayStation or X-box, they have been around a while and will likely be, however I would leave out what generation the systems are.

Dating temptation is the strong urge(or instinct) to use dated branded items. The desire to use them is strong because they are familiar and easy to reach for. If I need a branded item and can’t do without, I look to the longest and still strongest survivors like Pepsi, Coke, Sprite and 7up. If not I would say Cola, pop or soda depending on the situation or character. (Different countries call the same things by different names.  In Canada stackable powdery candy are called rockets, in the US they call them Smarties, while Canadians call a candy coated orbital spheroid chocolate, Smarties.

My advice about trendy or familiar things.
If you’re writing and want to avoid sticking your story in a specific date then avoid dated objects, events and fashions. Also, beware of culture differences ie, candies. Apparently, they don’t have Crunchie bars in the us?


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10 thoughts on “Dating Temptation

    • This was mostly for my style of book. The setting and subject needed generic non time specific references. It was most to be aware if you don’t want a specific time period linked to your story. I love stories set in specific times… when done well. 😉


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