Inside jokes

One of my favorite parts of writing fiction is the ability to insert “Easter Eggs” in the manuscript.

Do you know what I’m talking about? Easter Eggs are more commonly heard about in television, where the actors or producers might insert an inside joke into the script. The audience may or may not get it.

For instance, in the series True Blood on HBO, Jason Stackhouse wears a baseball cap with a panther on it throughout the first season — an obvious reference (to fans of the series) to the fact that Jason will later become a were-panther.

There’s an old episode of Friends (I’m showing my age here), where two people are getting married. (I don’t remember whom.) Jennifer Aniston stops outside one room, and reads the sign. It says, “Anatassakis Wedding” which is Jennifer Aniston’s real name.

In Elemental, I named a very minor character after my agent. I knew when she read the line she’d either laugh or fire me as a client. Thank god she laughed. And I thought for sure she’d take it out before the book went on submission — but she didn’t!

So you’ll all be in on the joke when it comes out next summer.

In another manuscript, I made a character drink Diet Pepsi, just to antagonize one of my closest friend, who has a deep seated resentment for Diet Pepsi. She still brings that up.

I have a scene in A Wicked Little Rhythm where a computer throws a “greenish hue” on a character’s face, a joke to my husband, who thinks it’s hilarious when movies show a computer reflecting green across an actor’s features. Have you ever seen a computer do this? Worse, have you even seen a modern computer with an old school DOS green-and-black interface? 

Yesterday, I wrote a scene where I needed a librarian to hush some teenagers. I named the librarian Mrs. Beard, after my friend and critique partner — who is, in fact, a librarian. 

These are little references, most of which will go over people’s heads. But they’re fun for me, because I’m in on the joke.

What things to you work into your own stuff, just for friends and family?


4 thoughts on “Inside jokes

  1. I’ve noticed a few references to Firefly in episodes of Castle: he wears his Browncoat uniform in the Halloween episode, and speaks Chinese that he picked up from “an old TV show” in another.

    For my stuff, our crit group has inside jokes on cannibalism and vomit (those two aren’t necessarily related) so I’ve made sure to have at least a mention of those.

  2. If I can ever get my husband to read my finished ms, he’ll see a lot of references to music he hates.

    There’s one whole scene set in a field of blue bonnets that my husband’s whole family will die when they read.

    I have a crit partner who hates the word “gingerly.” I work it in from time to time…that and “super.”

  3. I love figuring out all the references in JK Rowling’s character and place names. They are just SO incredible, like Fenrir Greyback — Fenrir is some obscure Norse wolf-god and the character is a werewolf. Or there’s Sirius Black, named after the DOG star, and he’s an animagus who turns into a dog.

    Anyway, isn’t it also traditional that female authors are supposed to name their villains after boys who dumped them in high school?
    I haven’t actually done that, but I did model one obnoxious character after a principal I disliked and another one after a really annoying guy I used to perform with.

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