So we’ve learned that slang expressions can date our novels. How about names, careers, clothes?
I have a twenty-year old as the romantic lead. He’s handsome, great build, financially independent, and his name is Theodore Archibald Merryweather. Think that name will cut as a romantic lead today? How about Isadore? Harold? Horace? All great names in their time, but today they probably wouldn’t keep the female reader’s attention.
A female romantic lead. She’s a garbage collector. Fine job, but would it work as a career for a female romantic lead? It might, but probably not.
Again, a romantic lead. Only, he dresses in loud plaid jackets reminiscent of the 70s. Would it work today? It could. But again, probably not. It could actually turn off your reader.
We have to constantly be aware of who we are writing about and who we are writing for. Names should be names popular in any particular time period. UNLESS there is a reason for the outdated item or name. Maybe a young woman wears an old-fashioned pin of her grandmother’s because she can’t bear the grandmother’s death. So the old piece of jewelry has a reason. How about the name Theodore. It was a family name passed down, and he drew the short end of the straw. His nickname could be Theo, Teddy, Dor, or any number of names to make it sound more current. The garbage collector? She is also runs an art gallery or antique shop on weekends. Her “finds” are free additions to the stock she sells in her store.
Give us a reason for anything that doesn’t fit naturally.
Be sure your reader understands the difference between Feel the Bern and Feel the Burn. It has to make sense in order to keep their attention.