Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Pop-Culture PITA

In the self-torturing department of life I have a habit of using name-brands in my stories. This means I have to spend an hour or so at the Trademarks registry to acknowledge the ownership of said brand names in my books.

Why do I like to do this? I dunno, really, except it lends an authenticity to my books that makes me happy, and to me, it also adds a visuality. I guess some could view it as a lazy shortcut, and me being the woman of few words that I am, maybe it is.

What do you think? Is it lazy to say "She slipped her Ray-Bans over her head like a headband?" When I could say "She slipped her rectangular, tortoise shell sunglasses..." or even simply "her sunglasses..."

I'm just really, really fond of Ray-Ban. First of all, it's the grooviest name for a line of sunglasses ever. EVER. Secondly, it tells a bit about the heroine. And thirdly, the reader forms an immediate picture and can then "see" the scene more clearly.

I've had one or two reviewers complain about my propensity to use name brands. But it's become a part of my style that I'm averse to giving up and I *do* try to limit them to fairly well-known items, or brands which have an importance to the characters livelihood, such as Cessna airplanes.

Am I nuts? How do you handle name brands? Do you avoid them or do you use them with great relish?

Are you a pop-culture PITA like me?


Blogger THIS! Christine said...

I'm with you, Ann. Brand names don't bother me at all. As a reader it gives me a very clear picture of what item the character has or is using, or wants, BUT! (you knew there was one right?), there is a tendency (by some) to use very regional specific brands which, on the international market, can get lost in translation. I've read a few where I had to ask someone from that area what this or that was.
A few examples:
From a British author...Aga.
A NA friend asked me to clarify this vehicle name from OZ, Ute.
Ho Ho???
Tim Hortons, or for that matter Starbucks.
Even Kleenex and Saran wrap can be confusing to someone not familiar with NAn culture.


April 26, 2006 1:36 PM  
Blogger Lyn Cash said...

Don't hate me, but Nick handles my propensity for name brands at EC - lol. Of course, editors at other houses don't, but ole Nick makes the list, checks it twice, and like Santa Claus delivers the goodies without my worrying.

I DO like name brands in books, not just my own for laziness sake, because name brands tend to really help define a character without wordiness.

April 26, 2006 1:37 PM  
Blogger Ann Wesley Hardin said...

WTG, Suns. You made me hate you, love Nick and holler for Breeeeeeeeee.

I'm sure you AND Nick will be getting an internal email from her soon.


If it weren't for the fact that she pushes my buttons and makes me greater than I deserve to be and has 50 other authors (many of whom win multiple awards) and gave me a chance when no one else would and loves my stuff almost as much as I do, I'd kick her sorry ass.

R U listening, Bree?


April 26, 2006 1:50 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm listening, Ann :P Email me and we'll discuss ;)

April 26, 2006 2:00 PM  
Blogger Ann Wesley Hardin said...

ACK! So soon? heeheehee J/k Bree. You know how it is. heeheeNervousWiggleheeheeI'mBeingWatchedHeeheehee,

Oh hell. Blame Lyn and Nick. Not me. NEVER me. No need for emails. All the Trademarks are done...

April 26, 2006 2:15 PM  
Blogger Ann Wesley Hardin said...


April 26, 2006 2:17 PM  
Blogger Ann Wesley Hardin said...

x--yeah, I've thought about the international thing. Funnily enough I remember the first time I came across the AGA was in The Shellseekers. I had no clue but she either explained it later on, or I learned from context.

Ii like that about reading. I love to learn things--esp. international things.

You and I and so many other writers grew up before the WWW. We had to learn things from the books we read. We couldn't Google a term and find it out. I guess some of that still spills over in my writing.

I hate to insult a reader. Uh Uh. Ain't gonna do it. So if a name brand trips up someone in Upper Volta, I'd rather she either learn it from later narrative in my book, her own deductive reasoning, or the dictionary.

I think, in the end, it helps to make a more satisfying, personal read!

April 26, 2006 2:37 PM  
Blogger Shannon Stacey said...

Oh, that is SO not fair.

*makes sulky face*


April 26, 2006 9:40 PM  
Blogger Anne said...

I agree... I see nothing wrong with name brands, and why go through all the descriptives when saying "She slipped on a pair of Ray-Bans" that says it all *G*

April 27, 2006 4:49 PM  
Blogger Lyn Cash said...

howling here - LUBS YA BREE - lol. You know, now *I* am paranoid. Bree will probably contact Nick and tell him he's spoiling me and that he shouldn't be doing that sort of thing for me, even if it would take moi all freakin' week to look everything up and do it herself.

Hey, at least your editor posts on your blog. I have one (Not Nick) who writes me secret emails and tells me 'you need to delete this' or whatever - lol.

And I feel the same way about the readers - would never intentionally insult one, but I do hope if they don't understand something that they care enough about the book to look it up or ask me point blank...WTF does this mean, etc.

April 27, 2006 5:12 PM  
Blogger Daisy Dexter Dobbs said...

After avoiding name brands for so long because I was too damn lazy to look them up, I finally slipped a couple into my last story. Unfortunately, Bree’s eagle eye caught them and I had to go and do the trademark research.

So…Nick does it for you, huh, Lyn? Hmmm…

And we see you, Bree--you can NOT hide from your authors! LOL Better watch out--I think you’re in for an uprising! LOL

April 28, 2006 12:53 PM  
Anonymous James said...

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April 29, 2006 2:49 AM  

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