Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Hiding Bones Again

This is a repeat of one of my favorite blogs, which I ran in 2009. I'd like to share it with followers who may not have seen it and are not acquainted with Rascal.
I often laugh at my dog, Rascal, because she does such silly things. One is to run around the house with a toy or bone, then drop it in a corner and scamper away. She acts like she's hid it in a great spot, but I can see exactly where it is.

When you write a novel, you have a choice of toys and bones to hide. They're also known as clues. How obvious you make them to the reader is up to you and your storyline. For example, if you want to show the goodness of a character, an easy way is to give that person a dog, cat or some other pet to love. Normally, you'd think the nice person would take in a stray animal. That clue seems easy to pick up.

Since people are complex and many have good as well as bad points, such a clue might be hidden in plain sight. The villain could be really sweet to an animal, making him seem good to a reader's eyes, yet that same person could hate people and be really mean to them. Or, to stick true to form, it's said that killers and sadists start early by torturing animals. You could describe a childhood incident where the villain hurts an animal.

You can also plant obvious clues in your novel, like making villains frown or suffer from facial ticks. For heroes or heroines, you can casually mention special skills or hobbies which will come into play later in the novel. In my romantic suspense, Killer Career, the villain almost trips over some hand weights in the heroine's home. Later in the story, the reference becomes more significant.

What about you? What toys or bones have you used in one of your novels? Or, maybe you remember an example in someone else's to share with us.

Morgan Mandel
Killer Career at Amazon
99 cents on Kindle

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  1. Often a clue to the protagonist's personality is the friends they have. How do they interact with that friend? Or do they seem to have no one within their inner circle? In the book I'm working on now, my protagonist has a couple of good friends and with each the relationship is a bit different. But how open she is with each is "telling."

    Thanks Morgan.

  2. I remember this post from last year, Morgan. I laughed then at your dog, and laughed again this morning. What a great way to make your point about the writing.

  3. Love the free weights example, Morgan! When you start reading you are so eager to orient yourself in the world of the story that even obvious clues can pass by. So when I finish a good novel I always circle back and re-read its first chapter or two to see the seamless ways the author set everything up. It's fun!

  4. Thanks for the post. I love it when stories drop clues and hints that you don't even realize were significant until you've reached the climax of the story.

  5. I use the four-dot elipse to end a sentence that "trails off." The reason, of course, is the last dot is the period at the end of the sentence. However, I never realized that the rules said you should leave a space before and after a three-dot elipse. First time I've seen that rule. I'll have to start doing that.


The Blood-Red Pencil is a blog focusing on editing and writing advice. Some of our contributors are editors, some are authors, and some are writing sheep. Yes, sheep.


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