Well, since some of the short stories that I begun posting here last February were nostalgia-based stories, I thought that I’d offer a couple of fairly basic tips about how to add nostalgia to your stories.
1) Small details: One of the best ways to add nostalgia to your stories is through small details. In other words, include items and things that are strongly associated with the time period you are nostalgic about.
For example, this “2000s nostalgia” story briefly includes a description of an old early-mid 2000s mobile phone. This other “2000s nostalgia” story briefly includes a reference to a defunct chain of video shops that were popular in early-mid 2000s Britain. Likewise, this 1990s nostalgia-based story briefly includes a segment about POGs.
However, you need to remember that not all of your readers will have memories of the things that make you feel nostalgic. So, it is often best to include a brief physcial description of the nostalgic items in question.
For example, here’s the segment about POGs in the “1990s nostalgia”-themed short story I mentioned earlier: ‘ “‘Oh my god, is that a tube of POGs? No way!” Since the next student loan instalment didn’t arrive for three days, she knew that she’d have to ration herself. Even so, the translucent green tube of cardboard discs was only 25p. It even included a couple of gnarly-looking slammers too.‘
As you can see, this passage also includes a brief physical description of what POGs are. Since it’s possible that many readers didn’t grow up in the 1990s, they may not have had the nostalgic connection to them that I have. They may not even have heard of them. So, it’s always a good idea to include a brief physical description of more random, ephemeral or obscure nostalgic things.
2) Rules, commonalities and differences: If you’re going to include nostalgia about a particular time period in your story, then you need to understand what made that time period so distinctive.
In other words, you have to examine your memories and/or lots of things (eg: TV shows, books, pop culture etc..) from that time in order to see what they all have in common – and how this contrasts with the present day.
Not only will learning this allow you to subtly add the “flavour” of a particular time period to your story (eg: stuff involving the 1990s will often be a bit more optimistic), but it also allows you to make the kind of pithy observations that can really add some emotional and/or intellectual depth to your story too.
For example, in one of my “2000s Nostalgia” stories, there’s a segment where the two characters are talking about silly rumours that they heard during the (early-mid) 2000s. Finally, one of the characters comments: ‘These days, it’d be pics or GTFO. I miss folklore.‘
This is the kind of detail that comes from thinking about what made the early-mid 2000s different to the present day. Back then, smartphones/camera phones weren’t as common and social media was very much in it’s infancy. Likewise, the whole “fake news” thing hadn’t happened. So, there was less of an impulse for people to document and/or question literally everything. As such, things like silly rumours were more likely to be spread and believed by more naive people. It’s a small difference, but a noticeable one.
So, yes, study the time period that your story revolves around and see what everything in it had in common, and how it differs from the present day.
Anyway, I hope that this was useful 🙂