Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Writing Tips from Wreck-It Ralph


I've been thinking a lot about "Wreck-It Ralph." It's been on my mind because my kids keep watching it. It's a recurring feature in our family's "Minivan Theater," and whenever I hear the video game-inspired theme song come up, I always think the same thing, this movie has really great call backs.

Yep, I'm a real writing nerd.

A call back is when you mention something at the beginning of the story in an off-hand ways. There's nothing to tell the reader than this particular detail is important and the reader often forgets about it. Then, at the end of the book, when you wrap up your theme, you "call back" the detail. And, voilà, it turns out that the detail was really significant, it may even make your whole theme come together.

Wreck-It-Ralph is full of call backs, and they are cleverly hidden as fan service or easter eggs. The protagonists' powers (breaking and fixing), the fact that you die out of your game, the cybugs that turn into what they eat, the Sugar Rush poster, the Turbo Time references, they're all mentioned in passing and they all seem mere details that support the retro video game ambience. When they come back as part of the plot the viewer is delighted.

I'm working on putting more callbacks in my book. How about you, do you use callbacks in your writing?