Tuesday, 6 October 2009

Writing a trilogy #2

Let's talk about references!

There are lots of references in my trilogy - some are accidental, some are deliberate, and a few are highly deliberate. A very select few people in the world who might guess one or two references might work out one of the major twists in the story. However, I have a firm policy on references not being the core part of the story - many many times, directors and writers use this excuse of "homage" to create work that is either copied or boring or both. The biggest example that comes to mind is Tarantino, who seems to stitch together entire films out of references to parts of popular culture and sub-culture that many people have missed (e.g. large parts of Kill Bill). If the fun of insiders understanding a particular reference is the only thing of credit in a book or film, then ordinary outsider readers/viewers will find get bored and won't be able to connect with it.

I've worked hard to make sure references in this trilogy are simply fun additions, icing on the cake etc. Most in this trilogy take the form of anagrams and throwaway jokes from sitcoms or comedy books - I'll admit to a strong love of Red Dwarf and Terry Pratchett, both of which who I grew up with. Or sometimes the references are simply in larger, broader themes; just as my sci-fi book Devolution takes the war on terror (T.W.A.T.) as an important theme, this trilogy refers to political and cultural ideas in Brave New World, Nineteen Eighty-Four and other classic dystopias which are brilliant and ask questions that remain valid decades after they were written.

But still, they are just sideshows to the story and the plot and the action that drives it all. This story, its concept and ideas/combination of ideas are mine, and likewise it's essential for any author who wants to build a career or an identity as a creative person to create work that is individual to them.

No comments:

Post a Comment