♦Welcome to another edition of the Open Book Blog Hop!♦
Do you include any inside jokes or Easter eggs in your work?
Welcome back to another Open Book Blog Hop! The authors included in this ongoing series wish to thank you for your reads. Even more so, we appreciate that you share our writings with friends. If you’re new to the series, welcome aboard. The authors engage and impress weekly. Prepare to become a regular reader.
The best part of my studies, and the reason I love to talk about it, is the study of intertexts. What is an intertext you ask? To define it simply: it is an inside joke or a kind of Easter egg. In a nutshell, intertext is found treasure.
Do you remember the Choose Your Own Adventure Books? What an amazing idea they are. The reader makes a choice and it helps shape the story they read. But, what if I told you that every single text is a choose your own adventure? You likely think I’ve fallen off my nut. Let me explain and see what you think then!
You are the sum total of your experiences and learning, right? Some even believe that we have genetic memory, so that we also have experiences and learning imbedded within us from our ancestors. Certainly, our behavior is shaped by those who raise us. In that, we obtain puzzle pieces of the past. But I am talking about hard coding that helps our bodies adjust to environmental and social changes. Basically, what I am saying is that there are a lot of layers that makes you who you are. A text is the same.
If you boil items down to text you will see how treasure is to be found within every book written. Unearthing that treasure will be unique to the reader, but also to social groups to which they belong. For instance, Star Wars fans will likely find something that opens up a head cannon within the book they’re reading, or could even reframe the SW Saga for them.
Easter eggs and inside jokes require these intersections of texts. The reason that you laugh is likely because you know the meaning intended, and it opens up a whole cache of memory and ideas. Those who don’t get it don’t have the text necessary to unlock that meaning. Even when they do get that text, without other texts (experiences, knowledge, references), they still may not find it funny.
This is a popular literary theory, and one I adore. Having focused on this in my graduate studies, I absolutely could not wait to add it to my works. If you crack open any of my books, be prepared to spot them. You won’t catch them all, but those you do catch will make that reading so much richer. These are the things that keep a reader coming back to your text (or why it feels so different to read your favorite book now as compared to a couple decades ago).
The next time you watch a film, I recommend attempting to spot intertexts. Comedy is a great place to start. The genre is heavily reliant on knowing, as is Shakespeare. Last time, I mentioned the Bard and how my classmates struggled to catch on to his words. They were missing the keys of language known as intertext. So, even when the teacher explained a passage to them, they still struggled with the material. It was irrelevant to their experience (or so they believed) because it failed to make any meaning for them.
Why was M*A*S*H so wildly popular in the United States? The intertexts are widely shared. Therefore, the viewers caught the meanings. After all, the wars were not ancient history yet. People had grown up with the news and the tumultuous 1960s to make those layers of information the series spoke to.
The depth such treasure can add to your work is immense. (Check out these opinions on the topic.) That said, you have to know what you’re doing, or you could end up hammering away at something instead of layering it in. Develop the skill with an eye on finesse and care. To help, think of a recipe that says to fold in the ingredients. I can’t explain it to you, David. Just fold it in.
Cooks know how to fold, but you can’t really describe the process with words. Showing the learner can’t give them the skill, but it can demonstrate the movements necessary. At some point, how you apply it will click. That’s why I recommend watching some film with an eye for it, and think about how it altered the experience to realize it was happening. Then, examine how they carefully placed it and why they placed it in that way.
Easter eggs and inside jokes require care. You don’t want any of your audience to feel left out, but you also want to provide those who know the reference to get the thrill of getting it. Fold it in–gingerly, and don’t add too much, just what the recipe calls for.
Be sure to click on the other author links below to get their perspectives on these literary devices. Taken together, you’re going to find the pieces fit together to create a much bigger picture with greater information on the topic.