Anachronism – “the representation of an event, person, or thing in a historical context in which it could not have occurred or existed.”
As I poured words into the first draft of my novel, I often made an educated guess – okay, sometimes I just made things up – about certain events or things and added a comment to do the fact checking when I started my revisions.
Anachronisms gone wild
1. Eternity was introduced by Calvin Klein in 1988.
My protagonist learned his mother wore this fragrance – 10 years before it was introduced…doh!
2. Cell phones weren’t in most college students’ pockets in 1992.
My original outline referenced use of a cell phone in a call between 2 siblings. Nope, I don’t think so. In 2012, yes. In 1992? Whoops.
3. Desktop PCs weren’t everyday household items in 1992.
I got my first one in late 1993. It was an HP. But I needed one (in the novel) in 1992 and needed to know when the Windows operating system came out. When did you get your first Windows PC? (Or are you a MAC person?)
I’m sure I fixed a few other things but those three were stand-outs.
Other interesting tidbits and trivia
Continuing my top 10:
4. Want your characters to sing a line or two from a pop song? You probably need permission to use those lines. You don’t want to get hit for a copyright violation.
5. The USS Enterprise (CVN-65) ran aground in San Francisco Bay in 1983. George Takei was on board!
6. Italicize ship names, like Enterprise, but not the USS part.
So is it the Starship Enterprise, starship Enterpirse, Starship Enterprise??? It is USS Enterprise (NCC-1701).
7. Using brand names in fiction. Trademark issues. @RightsofWriters has a nice article covering some of the things that might get a writer in trouble. I also found a few articles discussing references to famous characters from fiction or movies, like a certain roguish-space pirate-smuggler type from a hit sci-fi movie from the 1970s… Dang! You mean my protagonist can’t use his favorite action figures to stage medieval battles unless I ask permission to use the name?! *sigh* (Okay – you can use said character’s name but if you don’t ask permission, you potentially could find yourself in legal troubles.)
9. Baseball – a low ERA is better than high ERA. 🙂
I knew this. Honest. It was a speeding-through-the-writing brain fart.
10. There was a ’64 Mustang on display at the New York World’s Fair.
Giving away my age: I was at the ’64 World’s Fair but all I remember seeing was Michelangelo’s sculpture, Pietà, and the big globe thing – or was that Epcot…
And now you’re wondering…
What the heck is Keeping the Family Peace about? How do all those disparate ideas fit into one novel? Keep watching this blog for information about my debut novel later this year!
Readers – have you ever spotted an anachronism in a book? Did it bother you? And writer friends – tell us about interesting things you learned or fact-checked while working on your books.
Charlene Newcomb is the author of the contemporary novel, Keeping the Family Peace, and the Battle Scars series, 12th century historical fiction filled with war, political intrigue, and a knightly romance of forbidden love set during the reign of Richard the Lionheart.
Char also writes science fiction, including some Star Wars short stories. Her novel, Echoes of the Storm will be published in summer 2020.
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