Okay, here’s the situation. I send my stories, to a professional editor before I send them out. I was a prof of English for years, but I still need the extra pair of eyes. So, my editor and I have a great working relationship. I respect her judgment 99.9 percent of the time. It’s that one tenth percent that I wish to talk about today.
I have a story I wish to send out very soon. The time frame of the narrative is 1963. Here’s the section in question:
Across the road on the ball field, coaches knocked long fly balls to the outfielders. A chain of yellow buses turned off the far road and headed toward the school. One of the teachers flipped his cigarette to the pavement and ground it out beneath his shoe. Another teacher started doing a mock of the Twist.
My editor suggests that I change the final sentence to:
Another teacher doing a mock dance of the Twist.
My editor noted that “we can’t assume readers will know what this is.” By “this” she meant “the Twist.”
Now, I intend to incorporate her suggestion and put in “dance.” But, what I would like to know is: Are our readers, i.e., twenty-five and younger, really unaware of Chubby Checker’s hit song “The Twist” that came out in 1960?
My next question is have you ever felt the need to add information to your narrative to support the possible lack of knowledge, cultural or otherwise of your readers? How far do we go with this sort of thing?