Be careful of pop culture references. They become dated far too fast, and can take the reader out of the world that you’ve built. It’s best to use them when the genre you’re writing calls for it, and even then it can be a good idea to go for fictionalized versions of the “real” thing (like a fake…
I don’t think you can go wrong referencing classics, though. In my WIP I make plenty of references to things like Black sabbath, Led Zeppelin, The Beatles, and Pepsi, because they’re not going anywhere any time soon.
I am also using references that are intentionally dated to subtly hint that the story takes place in the early 90s without blatantly stating it.
Your only responsibility as a writer is to be true to the story that has chosen you as its writer.
Present tense is usually paired with first person because it connects the reader more to the character and the action; it’s one of the easiest narratives to read. Past tense is usually used with third person because we’re used to third person events being told in past tense (such as news articles and non-fiction).
BUT there’s no hard and fast rule either way. You’ll find books with first person, past tense and third person, present tense. It’s really a matter of opinion on the behalf of the reader, who may be more use to one way rather than the other. If that’s the format you want to use, just remember what matters most is the story - if it’s solid, your readers will be drawn in no matter what way you choose to tell it.
It helps to look at other examples to see what they do well and what you personally don’t like about it.
I’m currently writing in first-past, and I’ve been watching How I Met Your Mother as an example. And one thing that I’ve learned is that too much after-the-fact commentary (“little did I know, this relationship would be over before the end of the month”) can pull you out of the moment and be very distracting.
It can be done well, though, if it’s used to transition and cover the time/space between scenes. It absolutely doesn’t work (for me, at least) in the middle of the scene. It feels way to heavy-handed and interrupts the natural flow of the scene.
That being said, I’m a big proponent of ignoring other peoples criticism of a style (I.e. Third-present format) and make decisions for yourself. Try it out, mess with it, tear it open and analyze its insides. That’s the only way to know if it will work for you.
- Your book is going to suck. But…
- It’s perfectly okay that it’s gonna suck—that’s the point. Because…
- It’s making progress on a story that matters, not the words. And…
- You can edit and revise and polish to your heart’s content after July ends. Just…
- Don’t edit…
In Act 1, get your characters up in a tree; in Act 2, throw stones at them; and in Act 3, get them down again.
You are in high school.
You dropped out of high school.
You live within 20 minutes of your best friend.
You don’t have a best friend.
You live within 20 minutes of the last person you kissed.
You live within 20 minutes of your ex.
You have hugged someone in the last 48 hours.
You have been to the movies within the last week.
You have had 3 or more boyfriends/girlfriends just this year.
You have been a designated driver.
You have broken merchandise and not paid for it.
You have played strip poker.
You are Catholic.
You are an atheist.
You recycle regularly.
You are a brunette.
You have dated a blonde.
You are friends with a redhead.
You are taller than your mum.
You are taller than your dad.
You have a bank account.
You’ve written a check for less than $5.
You have visited the Statue of Liberty.
You have visited the Eiffel Tower.
You have visited Big Ben.
You have visited the Colosseum.
You have visited The Great Wall of China.
You have never been out of the country.
You have been a waiter/waitress.
You own a Bible.
You own something with a Pentagram on it.
You have used a Ouija Board.
You have been a witch for Halloween.
You have been a zombie for Halloween.
You have your eyebrow pierced.
You have a Monroe piercing.
You have your nose pierced.
You have no tattoos.
You have more than 2 tattoos.
You straighten your hair occasionally.
You have worn a dress in the last 3 days.
You live somewhere that gets snow.
You celebrate Hanukkah.
You were at your own house last New Year’s.
You were at a bar last New Year’s.
You slept through last New Year’s.
You have worked on Christmas Eve.
You have worked on Christmas.
You have been told ‘I love you’ by someone today.
You were told by someone who’s not family.
You slept in your own bed last night.
You regret kissing the last person you kissed.
You are wearing a necklace right now.
You are wearing something red.
You are wearing something blue.
You are wearing something purple.
Your phone number ends with an even number.
You have kissed the last person you called/texted.
You are currently listening to music.
You are waiting for something.
You don’t like seafood.
You have eaten deer sausage.
You have given a complete stranger your phone number.
You have been hit on at work.
You have been hit on by someone more than 20 years older than you.
You have been whistled at.
You were creeped out by it.
You are a good speller.
You are very punctual.
You were dating someone in December of 2008.
You are still dating that person.
You have cheated on someone.
You have been on a cruise ship.
You have camped out in your own backyard.
You are wearing something that doesn’t belong to you.
You are a Pisces.
You are an Aquarius.
You are a Leo.
You wonder what will happen when you die.
You are afraid of the dark.
You write in all capital letters.
You have been told you have nice handwriting.
You have had a song written for you.
You have had a picture drawn of you.
You have curly/wavy hair.
You are wearing a watch.
You are wearing flip flops.
You wouldn’t date someone who smoked.
You know someone with the same birthday as you.
You are a morning person.
You are a night owl.
You slept in past 10 am today.
You have big plans for next weekend.
You are thinking of someone right now.
Your job is stressing you out.
You don’t have a job.
You have never had a job.
You were fired from your last job.
You know sign language.
You will usually try something at least once.
You have been swimming in the last month.
You are pessimistic by nature.
You have taken a ballet class.
You have taken karate.
You have taken gymnastics.
You wish on shooting stars.
You wish at 11:11.
Your birthday has already come this year.
You have been in a relationship that lasted longer than a year.
You aren’t over your ex.
You have gone after someone you knew was bad for you.
You have let someone use you.
You were/are a teenage mom.
You are an otaku.
You are a cosplayer.
You were named after someone.
You like your name.
Your last drink was water.
You have visited somewhere said to be ‘haunted’.
You have skipped school just because you didn’t feel like going.
You have taken medicine when you ‘feel a headache coming on’.
You are self-conscious about your body.
You have a hangover
You have a pet fish.
You have had a Jehovah’s Witness show up at your house.
You have godparents.
Your parents are still married.
You have step-siblings.
You are the oldest.
You are adopted.
You have a triplet
You don’t want kids.
You want more than four kids.
You have a bad temper.
You have made out with a complete stranger.
You usually make the first move in an intimate situation.
You have broken your arm.
You have had to get stitches on your face.
You have had an MRI.
Your fingernails are painted.
You like to sing.
You can play an instrument.
You keep a lot of secrets from people.
You don’t think people would accept you if they really got to know you.
You don’t trust people easily.
You borrowed something you really need to give back to someone.
You drive a car older than a 2002.
You have lost a friend you never thought you would.
You know a child who died of cancer.
You know a teenager who died in a car wreck.
You have done something illegal in the past 24 hours.
You have cut your hair in the last week.
You wear glasses.
Your favorite season is Autumn.
Your favorite color is orange.
Your favorite animal is a dolphin.
You last rode in a car with a relative.
You last rode in a car with a girl/woman.
You last rode in a car with the person you are dating.
You regularly watch Asian dramas.
You love Chinese food.
Your best friend is older than you.
You have to go to school/work tomorrow.
You answered every question truthfully.
The more popular we get, the bigger their houses get, the more responsibilities, the pressure, you know? The harder it gets for me to walk out on them.
Then you forget… forget what it’s like to be a fan. You hear it in bands all the time. It doesn’t sound like music anymore, you know? It sounds like… LIFESTYLE MAINTENANCE or something.
I used to be able to hear the sounds of the world. Everything. To me, it sounded like music. And now I don’t hear it anymore.
omfg its FINALLY done you guys. I really hope you like this.
ugh this gives me the willies
i wanna write a book about this
You can be as creative as you want, but unless you light a fire under your ass and shock-prod your brain-squirrels into powering the endeavor at hand, what’s the fucking point? Creativity demands action, direction, ambition. You tell me, “I want to write a novel about the persecution of magical ponies,” and then you sit there staring all slack-jawed, then the best you’ve done is committed an act of mental masturbation. Piss on inertia. Jump in. Get your hands dirty. Make something or shut up about it.