How do you want to be remembered as a writer? When I think of some of the great literary classics, I think “timeless.” A great work of fiction should speak to anyone from any time. It should explore the human condition and concepts that should resonate throughout the ages. Love, hate, jealousy, revenge, intrigue, mystery, adventure, humor, satire, life, death, etc. People have been using writing and fiction to explore these themes since writing was invented. They’re timeless.
You know what wrecks a piece of fiction and ruins its ability to be timeless? Dated references! Mentioning a current popular song, or musician, hairstyle, fashion, buzzword, the latest movie, the freshest meme. Things that have not yet proven the test of time DO NOT BELONG IN FICTION!
One piece of advice directed towards aspiring writers that drives me nuts is; “write every day.” If you’re a writer who follows other writers, you can’t escape Twitter, Tumblr, or Pinterest without seeing those lovely inspirational quotes and memes that are constantly touting this same sentiment over and over again. I know a lot of people are going to disagree with me on this, but this is why I think “write every day” is bullshit.
There are countless blog posts and articles dedicated to the phenomenon of how popular abuse is in romantic fiction today, as well as an equal amount of scorn dedicated to the idea that some romances perpetuate the idea of unrealistic relationship expectations. There is no denying the overwhelming popularity of these relationships and their portrayal in fiction, but is that healthy? Are young impressionable readers being too influenced by these ideas of ‘romance’ that most would deem damaging and unhealthy? Which is worse?
Have you ever read a novel that takes place in a fantasy universe based on Medieval Europe, or a historical fiction that is set over a hundred years ago, or thousands of years ago, or a story that happens on a different planet to a race of people that have no knowledge of Earth’s civilization or culture? Then, once immersed in these carefully crafted worlds, the writer uses an idiom, simile, or references something that completely pulls you out of the story because they’re using an expression that doesn’t fit with the story time or setting? One of the things that always ruins the reading experience for me is when writers use out of place expressions.
Traditional storytelling usually involves a linear storyline where everything happens in chronological order, but there are some authors who choose to tell their stories in a non-linear fashion (think Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights, Mark Z. Danielewski’s House of Leaves, or Salman Rushdie’s The Satanic Verses).