Pop Culture Reference in Fiction

I just finished reading The Guardian by Sherrilyn Kenyon. It was an interesting story. I might have to check out her other books. What bothered me about the story, though, were the pop culture references.

I don't like them in my fiction, especially not my fantasy. They pull me out of the story. They date the book. I want people ten years or even twenty years from now to be able to understand my stories. I'm pretty sure this topic has been discussed countless times. I guess it comes down to personal preference.

I get annoyed when I read technology articles written in the early 90s that calls the internet the World Wide Web. Every time read it I go, "No one calls it that anymore!" I know an article is not fiction but it still annoys me. An author using technology terms runs the risk of, down the line, turning readers off. The Guardian mentioned an iPhone. Ten years from now people may not know what an iPhone is. Okay. We all know iPhones aren't going anywhere anytime soon but that's beside the point.

Some stories written several years ago mention movies, music artists or events I've never heard of and the metaphor goes right over my head. Even now, an author runs the risk of using a pop culture reference the reader's never heard of. Needless to say, I don't use them in my stories. I don't mind coming across them in books as long as the story is well written and they're used sparingly. I liked The Guardian well enough. Even though the pop culture references pulled me from the story, they didn't turn me off it. I liked the male protagonist so much!

What's your take on pop culture reference in fiction?


  1. So true! It's funny, I had looked back on a story/novel I had started a few year ago (many, actually), and it had references from music from the early 2000s, and it was so obvious and wrong! It reminded me to avoid that in the future. But then again, some of our great classics have references that are very dated, so sometimes it works!

  2. References in books is a way to preserve a bit of the authors culture. I'd encourage it as it at least teaches you a bit of practical knowledge. Don't bash references, as they will come in handy when you're old and grey and nobody knows what you're talking about


Post a Comment

Thanks for visiting. I'd love to hear from you. Suggestions welcome!