Fun on the page
Do you ever slip sly references into your fiction that only a select few will catch? For example, I intend to write one of my Finnegan novels with the bed and breakfast having the same address as a house my family lived in when I was quite small. I intend to name the characters after the people who lived on that block decades ago. No one but the people who lived on that street then would ever catch the reference.
I noted in an earlier post that the two main characters of The Sleep of Reason are named for ancestors of mine (though one of them, it turns out, shares the name of a fairly famous French painter, and given some of the subject matter of the story, he will need to get a new name). Again, no one will catch that reference but the select few who know my family history.
None of this drives the plot. I don’t select character names as a way to hang memorable characterizations on them that I know about their namesakes. It doesn’t affect tone. It has no purpose at all other than to have a little fun and maybe (but unlikely) spark a moment of delight in a few readers.
I’d guess that fiction is full of this kind of thing, but the references are so obscure that no one catches them. Tell me, do you ever do this kind of thing?
Why do it? Why not do it?
Update June 2, 2011 – The reference above to the two characters in The Sleep of Reason who are named after ancestors of mine is now no longer valid. I’ve since renamed the characters, but my point still remains. Their names have a resonance, but they don’t drive the plot.