Easter Eggs

Hi, Gang. Craig with you once more with something kind of fun. Easter Eggs are little extras that appear in stories, film, and video games that make the story a little more entertaining. They’re the kind of thing where if you don’t have insider knowledge, you aren’t going to miss a thing. With inside knowledge you might get a chuckle or smile out of them.

Here are some examples, in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, Jones and Elsa find a painting on the wall of the lost ark. It’s a bit of humor that didn’t cost a thing.

The 2010 remake of Clash of the Titans has a couple of seconds dedicated to Bubo the wind-up owl from the original film.

Tom Cruise’s remake of the Mummy had a scene with The Book of the Dead from Brendan Fraser’s classic film.

I’m here to confess that I do such things in my fiction. It amuses me, and long term fans seem to appreciate them, too.

Many years ago I wrote a short story called Holobarkers. These were annoying holograms that follow you down the sidewalk or invade your vehicles to promote products like timeshares. A couple of years ago when I wrote a Cyberpunk story, I added Holobarkers to the environment. They worked fine in the novel, and those who read the short story knew immediately what they were. Those who had not, never knew the difference.

I do the same thing with characters, but you have to be careful doing this. Personal opinion here, but the last few Star Wars films dedicated far too much time to the legacy characters. This cut into screen time (think page time) for the new characters.

One of my series is supposed to be dark humor. There’s blood and death, but also corny things that happen in the tales. Several of my older main characters have shown up in supporting roles. It’s important that they are not main characters in the new tales. One of them is simply a voice from a radio broadcast.

One of my more popular characters is slated to make an appearance some time this year. She’s not going to be the main character, and serves more of a herald role in the new story. People who know and loved her will recognize her immediately, those who don’t won’t miss a beat.

A caution is in order here. I write a supernatural series. This does not give me license to include Hermione Granger in my tales. Keep in mind that copyright exists and you don’t have access to Batman or Atticus Finch.

I don’t have a recipe for you to use on this. If you have a series it’s easy enough to bring back older characters or items that were already introduced, but that isn’t an Easter Egg in my mind. If you cross series, and readers don’t have to know any history it can create that little surprise for your long-term fans.

Some of you may be asking why bother with something like this? You absolutely do not have to. I already mentioned they amuse me personally. Consider also that they’re like a reward for your long-term fans. They’ve stuck with me through thick and thin, then they get an inside joke as a reward. I think it helps to build a fandom.

I’m going to confess that I point these out in my author comments for the series that has so many of them. It’s like free promo. Someone liked the holobarkers, maybe they back up and check out the book of short stories. Maybe someone else likes one of my cameo characters, then checks out the novel where they were center stage.

How about it, gang? Have you ever written anything like this? Would you consider it in future tales? Talk to me in the comments.

63 thoughts on “Easter Eggs

  1. I’ve been binge-reading Pulitzer Prize winning Elizabeth Strout’s linked short stories and novels. She manages treats and surprises like those you call Easter eggs’ better than anyone. Fabulous writing. Thank you for your article.

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  3. This is an interesting idea, Craig. I have seen it done a few times before, specifically with Stephen King’s books and Roald Dahl’s children’s stories. It is fun to spot a character from another book. A bit of a fun secret between the author and the reader. I haven’t done it as I don’t have enough books yet. Maybe one day if the story lends itself to this.

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  4. An excellent post, Craig. I am a huge fan of the Easter egg! I’ve dropped them in a few of my short stories, and my two current WIP (novels) contain Easter eggs. My eggs tend to point back to Jazz Baby, since that is the first thing I ever had published. These are usually a brief line or two. If the reader has read Jazz Baby, they’ll get it. If not, the line still fits in with the conversation.

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  5. I love the whole concept of Easter eggs, Craig, and I’m glad to see how well they’ve worked for you. I’ve often thought it would be fun to have Rabbit & family go on a vacation to Florida, maybe stop off for gas at a little town called Riverbend? I think I could work it where the clerk behind the counter tells another customer about this cute kid who said his name was Rabbit “of all things,” and who was excited about seeing the ocean for the first time. Or something like that. Many of my readers have read both series, so for them, at least, couldn’t it work?

    At any rate, I do love the idea, and have noticed a couple here and there over the years, but probably don’t pick up them as often as I should. I need to be more aware. One thing I ALWAYS do, though, is read Author’s Notes. Maybe not always the Acknowledgements, but I never ignore the notes. You can find out some pretty interesting things in them, and I always try to share details in mine, especially if something I’ve written in the book might sound like fiction, but isn’t. (Like rattlesnakes giving dry bites, or the Brown Mountain lights, etc.)

    Thanks for an interesting and informative post that made me stop and think about better things to do with eggs than just having them for breakfast. 😀

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  6. Like Harmony, I’ve only written standalones and so they wouldn’t work for me at the moment but I can see how they’d go down really well in some of your series, Craig. I’m someone who loves them when discover them – it does make you feel that you share a special connection with the creator!

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  7. I love finding Easter Eggs in stories. I do it too in mine. You are right, though, it can be over done and take away from the story too. Great post, Craig!

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  8. I enjoy finding Easter eggs in books and movies. (They have whole YouTube channels devoted to pointing them out in popular movies.) I’ve done crossover characters but never actually Easter eggs before. I should add that to my list.

    Fun post, Craig.

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  9. Thanks for the insight! New author here and just trying to learn all I can! I have a couple story threads going (all just in the beginning!) (Oh and only my family qualify as long-term fans to date LOL!!!) but I think they would get a kick out of me bringing a fantasy character into a Science fiction story or something like that!

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    • It can be done, but be careful not to break things. As an example, in my urban fantasy, I’m going to have actual fantasy characters from another series appear, but they’re going to be cos-players from a comic book convention. No actual world crossing involved.

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  10. What a fun post, Craig! Easter Egg surprises really fit in your stories delightfully. I’ve not tried this technique in my stories, but it’s something to consider. 😊

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  11. As a gamer, I love Easter Eggs. It’s fun to spot them! I guess I’ve never thought about finding them or including them in books, but it makes total sense! Thank you for sharing this, Craig! Great article!!

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  12. What a fun post. There are definitely characters that show up across my series and I never thought of them as brightly colored Easter Eggs. But you are right. The folks that read each book in the series will immediately pick up on it and those who haven’t, as you said, don’t miss a beat. Fun stuff to throw into series. Thank you for sharing!

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  13. So far my books have taken place in different “universes,” so I haven’t had the opportunity to drop Easter eggs. But I like the idea, Craig. Funny thing is I dislike it in movies. It feels too contrived and gimmicky. But it’s great fun in books. Readers who remember them love it and those who don’t, won’t miss a beat. Fun post

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  14. I don’t recall ever planting an Easter egg in any of my books, but I always appreciate them when I stumble upon them in the work of others. You know what a fan of Holobarkers I am. I was grinning happily to see them show up in your cyber punk novel. I’ve caught a number of Easter eggs in your work. You plant them very well, and they are definetly fun. 🙂

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  15. I haven’t done it. I read a series from an author who brings back characters for cameo appearances, and I absolutely love it. Like you said, they don’t take away from the main characters or their storyline, but for fans who have fallen in love with those characters, it feels like an old friend has come to visit for a bit. Great post, Craig! 🙂

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  17. Love Easter eggs in stuff. I did it a lot in my Bedlam stories. I threw a few into Windemere tales too, but I keep them in that world. As you said, copyrights exist and you can’t grab anything. I believe you can hint at stuff or do an homage, but those skirt the line. Safer to stick to public domain or your own stuff.

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  18. As a rule, I don’t recycle characters. I did mention a couple from my Driscoll Lake Series in the first of my Legends of Madeira series, but that’s only because the two main characters in the book had minor roles in the third DL book.

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