Tuesday, August 4, 2009
Brand Names and World Building
I write book length fantasy and near future SF in short story length, so I build worlds. It will sound nerdy but I love it. I love reading about history and sociology. The study of linguistics for instance and how language can not only define your place in the world, but how you see the world fascinates me.
Because I write science fiction and fantasy, I don't write much that is set in our contemporary world. But recently I've been reading books from the incredibly popular Dark Urban Fantasy genre (DUF). These have been fun and easy to read, with good pacing and likable characters.
Coming fresh to the DUF genre, one of the things I noticed was the use of brand names in the narrative. In theory it is like writing in short hand. The author doesn't need to explain what the car/watch looks like, they just give the brand. This brand name will tell the reader the character's social status and wealth or lack of it.
As long as the reader knows the brands. I don't.
I found some of the books so heavy on brand name usage that it was like reading an SF book, where the author introduces a lot of invented nouns. At least in an SF book the author will plant clues in the narrative to explain the meaning of the invented nouns. With brand names the author assumes you know all the associations.
Brand names in contemporary narratives. What do you think of this?