2010), he “argues against using slang and jargon in your writing—at least, jargon that’s likely to be transient”:…today you won’t hear or read, “Oh, what a tough sweater!” Ditto, “That’s a boss song!” Similarly, if readers encounter a characterreferring to his girlfriend as “a groovy chick,” they might chuckleand look to see if the novel bears a 1967 copyright. If it doesn’t,and it’s not a period piece, the usage may grate on readers orleave them confused. Like most trendy slang, those usagesbecame relics of the past….Pleasing both our present and future readers can seem like an impossibletask. But with a little bit of foresight and practicality, we can sidestep themost egregious pitfalls by taking the following into consideration:
1. If you don’t need it, don’t use it.
If a particular line of slang or a pop-culture reference isn’t absolutely necessary, why include it? Modern readersprobably will never miss it, and future readers can’t stumble over what isn’tthere.
2. Let the context do the talking.
When you do retain potentially datedmaterial, make sure the meaning is evident from the context. Don’t annoymodern readers by going out of your way to explain, but take a moment toconsider how what you’ve written will sound to future audiences.
3. Avoid branding.
Generality may be the death of the novel, but utilizingbrand names isn’t always the best way to be specific. Instead of “cherryCoke,” why not just “cherry soda”? Who knows if Coke will still be around indays to come.
4. Be aware, but don’t obsess.
At the end of the day, we’re always writingprimarily for our immediate readers, since without them we’re not likely togarner any future fans. Don’t feel as if you need to eliminate all potentiallydated references (particularly since doing so is impossible). Just be awarethat those you do use may be shorter lived than any of us now think.