Celebrity Name-Dropping in Novels

RagtimeIs including famous historical figures in works of fiction nothing more than celebrity name-dropping? Or can it add dimension and perspective to a novel?

A few of the advance readers for my historical novel All Different Kinds of Free suggested I remove the scenes and references to Charles Dickens from my book. They said it felt like celebrity “name-dropping” (these were all folks in the publishing business in one form or another). Other advance readers loved the Dickens sections and encouraged me to leave them in (these folks were mostly  readers and fellow writers).

What to do? To help me decide, I did a quick review of the first historical novel I ever read (and loved), Ragtime by E.L. Doctorow.

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