I'm currently working on my first book, a sci-fi comedy set on an alternate history Earth which has progressed at twice the rate of our own planet (they were at our current tech when William the Conqueror was born).
However, I notice that my primary character basically has one of the most classic origin stories: he's a human being from our own near future (around 2065) who ends up on that alternate history earth due to events outside his influence and learns that he is put there because he needs to resolve an enormous issue which is kept on the down low for the normal public.
This is done in:
- HHGttG (Arthur Dent has the meaning of life in his brain)
- Futurama (Fry is sent a millenium in the future because of brain waves)
- The Sword of Truth series (Richard Cypher is the only one who can save the world)
- Wheel of Time (Rand Al'Thor is the only one who can save the world)
- and nearly every other sci-fi/fantasy book, game or movie.
My main character is basically "generic fictional hero with prophetic cause" number 23496. He even bears a striking resemblance to the first example mentioned above. Because it's comedy, I had the idea of extreme lampshade hanging for the sake of comedy, and fish-out-of-water references and shout-outs by the main character to those other stories, as well as celebrities.
The hope is that any readers of similar fiction will find the references and shoutouts funny. However, I don't know how far I can take these references.
Can I use them as throwaway comments? Minor plot points? Character naming? Plot twists? Entire chapter premises?
At this point, I'm kinda hesitating to continue working on my book (even though I only have basically a rough outline of the first 30 or so chapters, the idea for my main character and some disconnected ideas) because I don't know how far I can go in handling this.