BSV Forum - Writing - Resources

Dodging Anachronisms

Feb 20 2007 04:04 pm   #1Verity Watson
Of all the things that vex me, writing-wise, I often get *most* stuck when I'm in the midst of a particular season and want, say, Dawn's cell phone to ring. I stop and think "Which Britney Spears song would she have as her ring tone? Wait, would she have a cell phone with a custom ring tone in S6?" and so on.


Same goes for clothing designers, cosmetics, music on the radio. I'm crazy pop-culture literate for someone in her 30s, but I have to remind myself that Willow can't be into the Kaiser Chiefs because they didn't exist until after the show ended ...


Any thoughts? This seems to be getting tougher the farther canon events fade into the past. Or does it even matter?
You know I've been a good girl, but I hit a limit. ~ Poe
Feb 20 2007 04:35 pm   #2Diabola

Honestly? I'd be just as happy if people would stop putting stuff like that into their fics altogether. Nine times out o ten I have no clue what they are talking about anyway; be it due to age, interests, not living in America, whatever, but at best stuff like that leaves me vaguely annoyed, at worst, completely confused.

Could be I'm just odd, though. I don't give a damn who made, desinged or sold my clothes, I only care what they look like. Most music I like is older than me, and even with the songs/bands I like I barely ever know the names. So yeah, odd...

Whops, sorry, that wasn't what you were talking about at all. Guess I've been looking for a chance to get that off my chest. But you're right, the more time goes by, the harder it is to remember what did or didn't exsist at the time a season aired. I remember I wanted to include something about Willow's hacking somewhere, but I couldn't remember if the encryption I wanted to use even exsisted at the time, never mind if it was already common or not. Suddenly you need to reasarch the silliest things, just so you don't mention stuff that wasn't even availible until years later. I think it's almost easier to write about things further in the past (before your birth), at least for that you expect having to research everything; if you lived through that time, it feels like you should know what was what.

"The difference between genius and stupidity is that genius has limits." - Albert Einstein
Feb 20 2007 07:12 pm   #3Caro Mio

I've had to remind myself about the year of a movie before putting it in a fic. I catch stuff in other's stories that wasn't around at the time of the story, and it bugs, so I always try to be accurate in what I reference. But I'm a stickler on details, period, LOL.

What If I'm Not the Slayer? now updated with chapters 22 and 23.
Feb 20 2007 08:06 pm   #4Verity Watson
Dia, it never even crossed my mind that the BSV readership is international, and that just because we can communicate doesn't mean we all get the same references ... Rethinking, rethinking and possibly rewriting!
You know I've been a good girl, but I hit a limit. ~ Poe
Feb 20 2007 10:56 pm   #5Always_jbj

LOL...like Dia, 99% of the pop culture references just go straight over my head and I just put it down to being 'some American thing'.

I know that I personally try to avoid references to dates or anything that will date something, as trying to work out what year such and such a season was set in is even harder when they aired over here anything up to 2 years later. I'm actually so glad I didn't discover fan fic sooner than I did because the spoilers for the show would have been unavoidable...and I HATE spoilers.

Okay, now to get back on topic lol...there are sites you can go to that will tell you what the top 100 songs were in a certain year, or the top movies, books etc... so you could use them as references...but yeah...remembering what technology was available is probably a little harder (especially for those of us with...memory issues. lol)

Aim from the heart
Some will love and some will curse you, baby
You can go to war
But only if you have to 


Fanfic ~*~ Artwork ~*~ Live Journal
Feb 21 2007 02:21 am   #6slaymesoftly

Gah!   I just realized that I used two pop culture references in the last few chapters of LS that didn't exist back in Season III Spuffy.  Crap, crap, crap!  Curse you, Verity Watson!  * runs off to rewrite funny lines and cries*

LOL - as picky as I am about most stuff, I can't say that I've noticed that kind of thing very often.  Maybe I'm just oblivious, or so old that anything that didn't happen just a minute ago is so far in the past as to be irrelevant.   As far as knowing what things to use, it's fairly easy to research using the transcripts, dvds and/or knowing what years the show aired.  I think Dawn's having something like a cell phone - which I don't think anyone did until the very last season - is a pretty easy call. Movies, current songs, etc. will much trickier, but unless you use something from last week, probably won't resonate with anyone too much.  


PS - re Dia and Always's comments - I remember having to explain to someone from the UK who "CarrotTop" is.  Spike had asked Buffy if she'd "gone completely Carrot Top" which made me giggle (as the writer, no doubt, intended) (it may even have been a line from the show - I'm not sure), but meant nothing to anyone who has never had his manic version of "humor" inflicted upon them.  Those things lose a lot in the translation. lol

I am not a minion of Evil...
I am upper management.
Feb 21 2007 07:03 am   #7The Space Between

He shoulda said (for the Brits on the boards) 'Have you gone completely Izzard?'

I so love me some Eddie Izzard! My favorite bit is about being in love as a kid and whacking the little girl with french loaf!

~*~ The Powers offer no sympathy for the way things are...Human deeds are left in human hands. It's what one does with what's left that makes any difference ~*~ Jenny Calander as created by HollyDB
Feb 21 2007 07:29 am   #8Always_jbj
He shoulda said (for the Brits on the boards) 'Have you gone completely Izzard?'

LOL...wouldn't have helped us Aussies!

Aim from the heart
Some will love and some will curse you, baby
You can go to war
But only if you have to 


Fanfic ~*~ Artwork ~*~ Live Journal
Feb 21 2007 07:33 am   #9GoldenBuffy

See me I really don't care. I just add what every is popular now to it. I'm young but still way to old to remember what happened during any season ROFL.

And in the air the fireflies
Our only light in paradise
We'll show the world they were wrong
And teach them all to sing along
Feb 21 2007 03:16 pm   #10Verity Watson
Sorry, slaymesoftly ... but now you know I'll have to read your story and guess at every line. *Did she rewrite this one? Or this one? Or maybe that reference changed. Hmmm ...*

Re: Carrot Top/Izzard and so on ... the show itself sent me to the internet more times than I can count. Remember when Eve starting spouting lyrics from the Music Man during Angel S5? And I've always thought Buffy was too young to be obsessed with Dorothy Hamill ... so if the show can play with timeline and make references that send us to Wikipedia, maybe it doesn't matter ...

But it still drives me crazy!
You know I've been a good girl, but I hit a limit. ~ Poe
Feb 21 2007 03:21 pm   #11The Space Between

OMG! Ok, someone get Corinna a couple of Eddie Izzard DVDs and a towel because she will end up spraying whatever it is she will be drinking!

Eddie Izzard is just... Ugh! He is an experience that you just have to...experience for yourself. Carrot Top is a funny-hyper guy but Eddie is the snarky, satyrical funny guy!

The cake or death icons you see popping up all over the place now...line is courtesy of Eddie!

'Never put a sock in a toaster' *grin*

 

We built up empires – we stole countries! That’s what you do – that’s how you build an empire. We stole countries with the cunning use of flags. Yeah. Just sail around the world and stick a flag in. “I claim India for Britain!”

They go, “You can’t claim us – we live here! Five hundred million of us!”

“Do you have a flag?”

“We don’t need a bloody flag! We – it’s our country, you bastards!”

“No flag, no country – you can’t have one. That’s the rules that – I’ve just made up. And I’m backing it up with this gun that was lent from the N – National Rifle Association.”

~*~ The Powers offer no sympathy for the way things are...Human deeds are left in human hands. It's what one does with what's left that makes any difference ~*~ Jenny Calander as created by HollyDB
Feb 21 2007 08:32 pm   #12slaymesoftly

ROFL at everybody.  Verity, don't try to take the show as your guideline - they screwed up the continuity and references on a regular basis.  Although, I think young, ice-skating Buffy might have remembered Dorothy Hamill...  Not sure - it all becomes a blur after a while. lol  And I haven't done anything to my fic yet - not sure if I will - so you should have no trouble spotting the anacronisms.  

I am not a minion of Evil...
I am upper management.
Feb 22 2007 02:58 am   #13The Space Between

Nah young ice-skating Buffy would have known Dorothy. Dorothy won gold in the 76 Olympics and then won four consecutive world titles in the mid 80's so if Buffy was born in 81, then yeah, she'da known of Dorothy.

~*~ The Powers offer no sympathy for the way things are...Human deeds are left in human hands. It's what one does with what's left that makes any difference ~*~ Jenny Calander as created by HollyDB
Feb 22 2007 03:54 am   #14Eowyn315

I definitely have the anachronism problem, mostly with finding pop culture references that fit the timeframe of the story instead of what's popular now. The other day, I spent maybe 20 minutes trying to think of a substitute for a Rachael Ray reference because she just wasn't famous in 2001, and I reluctantly cut a Buffy/Dawn run that was too early to be referencing Signs (I'm contemplating writing a future-fic, just so I can use that scene).

I try to keep things accurate, but I'll make exceptions - most often for music. If there's a really great song that I want to include but it only came out last year, I'll let it slide if there's nothing better to suit the scene. (Maybe it's just me, but I feel like every song on Rob Thomas' solo CD fits some Buffy situation, and I feel compelled to use them, even though the CD came out in like, 2005.)

For the most part, I don't think it matters that much. You'll probably dwell on them a lot more than your readers will. I know I pay much closer attention to that in my own writing than in anyone else's. Unless it's something glaring, people probably won't stop to think, "Hmmm, that (movie/song/technology) wasn't around during season 2."

Writing should feel easy, like a monkey driving a speed boat.
Feb 22 2007 02:38 pm   #15msclawdia

I actually thought the 'gone carrot top' thing was some sort of British slang that had nothing to do with the, er, 'comedian'.   It was obvious what he meant from the context.  

I generally don't notice the pop culture stuff unless it's really jarring.  IMDB for movies/tv or Amazon for music would be good places to date a work so that you don't have characters doing the impossible.


Dec 15 2007 06:34 pm   #16Izzy

I love when the perfect joke is made and just how truthful or real it is, or how well it applies, makes it even better. Still, a lot of times I understand jokes without completely knowing the reference. Admittedly I started watching Buffy when I was too young to really care about designers and other things and a lot of the references were barely familiar. I didn't feel like I lost anything, though, because I knew what the jokes and references were supposed to be saying. I think it was Jane Espenson who said it was so great to use modern day pop culture and old so closely together when she mentions Xander joking about the Ghost of Christmas Past visiting Snyder because he was handing out candy, and mentioning a modern name I had no way of recognizing in a joke a few minutes before that.

The only thing that getsto me is something so obviously of a certain year that it sticks out and throws a reader off balance for a second, ruining the flow of that passage. For instance, a fic I read once involved a joke about Cheney shooting someone and another about September 11. For the rest, though, keeping the fics fresh seems fine to me and worrying about how often cell phones were used at what time would just give a writer a headache and wouldn't be fully appreciated for the work by the readers.

Good luck to all writers, whatever you decide to do, and may you be appreciated for all the time and hard work put into getting a story out there!


Dec 15 2007 08:46 pm   #17Scarlet Ibis

<--also thought "carrot top" ref was some British ref, but the, Spike is pretty well referenced with American pop culture.

Well, for me personally, I try my best to keep with continuity--in spite of what the writers did or didn't do.  I referenced an Edward Norton film, and referenced him by using another film he was in, and I had to double check to make sure it had already come out   

As for you, Verity, well, I know for a fact that none of the Scoobies used cells till season 7, and Dawn had a generic ring tone (I think) when she was trapped in the basement.  Honestly, I think they were just way behind (the Scoobies), and it was interesting to see them finally get cells in the first place. 

"Just when the caterpillar thought the world was over, it became a butterfly."
https://www.facebook.com/FangirlNovel
Dec 15 2007 09:10 pm   #18NautiBitz

As someone who is so scrupulous about proper timeline that I map out events from my fic on my iCal (in their corresponding year, of course - so I always know what day it is!) and had to refrain from a certain song reference because it came out *one week* after the fic's date, I feel your pain, Verity.

BUT - that said, I don't hold anyone else to that same standard. Fanfiction is inherently AU, so really, whatever the writer says, goes. Recently I read a fic that got the seasons all mixed up -- gasp, how dare she not obsess over the show as much as I! -- but the story is a blast, and if she's decided to mess with the timeline, that's her prerogative. I'll gladly go along for the ride. And I think -- as evidenced by the comments here -- most other people don't care either, especially now that old and new is blurring together, thanks to YouTube and DVD reissues and so on. (Spoken like a true old fogey. Bah!) Like slayme said, they didn't obsess over the details much on the show either (ie, would she be the right age for this or that), so I think that leaves the rest of us with fair game.

Now, about pop-culture references: Personally, I love to see them in fic, as long as they're not overdone. It's one of the things I loved about the show -- that it demonstrated, in a subtle and hilarious way, how much our generation communicates via cultural reference. Adding a couple of brand names (real or made up), having the characters misquote a movie line, or turning fictional icons into verbs, ie "Let's find Willow and Mulder this out," tends to give a fic that distinct Buffy feel.

Yes, there is the issue of it going over people's heads. But I assume a lot of the show's slang and cultural shorthand went over the heads of non-Americans. In fact, I'll bet most Americans didn't get half the references on the show. But the way I look at it is, if it's kept simple and subtle, it's there as a little bonus to the people who do get it. So don't shy away from it, just do it in moderation.

~ * ~ * ~ * ~

Devilish billionaire Spike Pratt is accustomed to getting what he wants -- and what he wants is his beguiling, headstrong new daughter-in-law, Buffy. This won't be an easy chase... Crave, by NautiBitz. Join NautiFic to read (open membership, all are welcome!).
Dec 15 2007 11:37 pm   #19Always_jbj

<i>But I assume a lot of the show's slang and cultural shorthand went over the heads of non-Americans. </i>

*nods* Yup, it sure did...at least with this non-American! lol

That's actually one of the hardest things I find about writing Xander, because he was the one most likely to drop a pop-culture reference and they are something I (for obvious reasons) don't use a great deal.

Aim from the heart
Some will love and some will curse you, baby
You can go to war
But only if you have to 


Fanfic ~*~ Artwork ~*~ Live Journal
Dec 16 2007 12:48 am   #20Eowyn315

I map out events from my fic on my iCal (in their corresponding year, of course - so I always know what day it is!)

OMG! I do that, too! Well, not on an iCal (*mourns the loss of the iBook*), but right now I have timeanddate.com open to a calendar of 2001. 

Random side bar: About a week ago, I remembered that the first half of season 6 took place in 2001, NOT 2002, and I'd been looking at the wrong calendar! But it all worked out, because I'd been counting days from Thanksgiving, which means I just bought myself an extra week before Christmas in the fic, lol. 

I think it's useful... I've written scenes with Dawn present in the middle of the day, and then thought, "Hmm, shouldn't she be in school?" Helps to know when the weekends fall.

Writing should feel easy, like a monkey driving a speed boat.
Dec 17 2007 04:57 am   #21NautiBitz

Helps to know when the weekends fall. 

Right? Oh, I feel much less crazy now. Or at least, we can be crazy together.

~ * ~ * ~ * ~

Devilish billionaire Spike Pratt is accustomed to getting what he wants -- and what he wants is his beguiling, headstrong new daughter-in-law, Buffy. This won't be an easy chase... Crave, by NautiBitz. Join NautiFic to read (open membership, all are welcome!).
Dec 17 2007 01:37 pm   #22slaymesoftly

I agree completely, Nauti *waves*.  One of the great things about the show (and other really well-written shows) is that you can rewatch and pick up on stuff you missed the first time through.  Any show in which there are references that some watchers miss because they have a different cultural background, a different education level, or just different interests is a fun one to me.   I don't think a writer should be afraid to use cultural references that are appropriate to the character(s) or to the time or place (most of us aren't going to be checking our calendars for the date - IMHO)- or any other kind of references. Spike sometimes mentions things that reflect his 19th centrury education, and Giles makes comments that float right over the heads of the Scoobies.  It's fun to catch those things; it adds another level to the story - but it's not earthshaking if someone doesn't. As long as the fic isn't dependent on a reader's knowing everything being referenced in order to enjoy the story, then I say "spice it up" however you want.

I am not a minion of Evil...
I am upper management.
Dec 17 2007 02:16 pm   #23Caro Mio

I definitely look up songs or movies to make sure they aren't too late, and I have a BTVS episode guide with the original air dates. I've even written out calendars for years I didn't still have calendars for. At least since I've lived in SoCal all my life, I don't get that stuff wrong, LOL. (and thanks to mom who was a history teacher) I love the references, but I've always tried to keep up with what's current in pop culture, etc. I'll learn anything if you make it accessible, LOL.

What If I'm Not the Slayer? now updated with chapters 22 and 23.
Dec 17 2007 07:36 pm   #24Eowyn315

Nauti, if I have to be crazy, I'd much rather be crazy with someone like you. (Besides, if your crazy produces hot, dirty FILF, how can it be bad??)

Writing should feel easy, like a monkey driving a speed boat.
Dec 18 2007 06:41 pm   #25pfeifferpack

Yup I put in references like that because they did on the show mostly.  I find if I google "pop culture XXXX" and the year where the x's are I get all sorts of info on what was popular, etc.   You can over research it too but for a small reference this works wonderfully.

 

Kathleen

Dec 19 2007 05:37 am   #26NautiBitz

*snugglez Eowyn under our crazy blanket*

And neat, pfeiffer, never thought to do that with google! That's a great tip for finding just the right Britney song for Dawn's cell.

Though, if you haven't chosen yet, Verity? My money's on "I'm Not A Girl, Not Yet A Woman".

~ * ~ * ~ * ~

Devilish billionaire Spike Pratt is accustomed to getting what he wants -- and what he wants is his beguiling, headstrong new daughter-in-law, Buffy. This won't be an easy chase... Crave, by NautiBitz. Join NautiFic to read (open membership, all are welcome!).
Dec 19 2007 06:03 pm   #27pfeifferpack

Google is a writers best friend *G*.

Kathleen

 

PS wants under that crazy blanket too (three isn't kinky is it??  Nope!)