Brand names. This one didn’t used to get to me. Blame my husband for it. But do we really care that he got into his dark blue Toyota Prius?
Pet Peeves in Novels
elizabeth tobey

Actually, I do care . . . if the brand reveals something interesting about the character, or if the generic alternative would sound weird.

If everyone in the room is wearing Armani suits, and the narrator — who’s come to pitch them on his idea for a new product — is suddenly very aware of his off-the-rack number from Men’s Wearhouse, that doesn’t feel like clutter to me. If the person getting into that dark blue Toyota Prius is a crime boss who’s spent the previous scene scaring the living crap out of two minions by quietly telling them that they’ve “disappointed” him, that’s (in the right context) a deft bit of characterization.

Realism is (even) more a case of “your mileage may vary,” but . . . when was the last time you heard somebody in a bar order “a beer” or “a lemon-lime soda” as opposed to “a Bud” or “a 7-Up?” Now, whether there’s any remotely compelling dramatic reason to include the dialogue (rather than just say “Susan ordered a diet soda; I had a beer”) is a whole other question. But if you’re going to do it . . .

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