What J-Lo Said to Paris About Britney

By Tony Neale,

Not long ago I read an outline where the writer was trying to come across as an insider. The story took place in L.A. on Rodeo Drive. The writer dropped this name and that name. She mentioned brands that you’d have to be a true fashionista to recognize-or a devoted fan of Sex and the City. The story was also a who’s who of reality television. I still don’t know how I feel about this…

The late James Michener was a master at writing cameos for historical figures into his novels. These historical characters would interact with his fictional ones and fit seamlessly into the story. Even if the reader had never heard of Sam Houston before reading Michener’s Texas, they would be able to relate to him. Can we say the same about possible guest appears by J-Lo, Paris and Britney in our stories? Are these tabloid darlings going to still be household words in a couple of years? Maybe.

The real problem I had with this particular story was that there were too many names dropped. Several even came from obscure reality shows I didn’t know. I’m no reality television expert. If forced I could name a couple of the winners from American Idol. That’s only because it was an extremely popular program with a lot of media coverage. I can’t tell you anything about Project Runway or similar programs, so this writer’s name-dropping was lost on me. I was concerned it might be lost on our readers, too. My advice was to drop some of the celebrity names completely.

You also need to do your research if you want to come across as a knowledgeable insider. If your character wears, buys or talks about Manolo Blahnik shoes be sure to spell it correctly. Don’t go to some other faux insider’s website for the spelling. Go to a shoe store or to the company’s official website so you can get it right.

Sometimes less is more. And make sure what you do include is correct. And if there are any more stories about J-Lo, Paris, Britney and their Manolo Blahniks, please drop at least two of the names before you send it to me.