Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Hiding Bones

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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 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 upcoming release, a romantic suspense called 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 novel. Please share.

Experience the diversity & versatility of Morgan Mandel. Romantic Comedies: Her Handyman & its sequel, A Perfect Angel, or the standalone reality show romance: Girl of My DreamsThriller: Forever Young: Blessing or Curse. & its Collection Sequel: the Blessing or Curse CollectionRomantic suspense: Killer Career. Mystery: Two WrongsTwitter:@MorganMandel Websites: Morgan Mandel.Com Morgan Does Chick Lit.Com


  1. Good analogy. I'm writing a book right now where the sleuth is an excellent shot at basketball. It's mentioned insignificantly at the start of the book but gets him out of a jam toward the end.

  2. Too early for me to think of an example, but I enjoyed the post.

    Jane Kennedy Sutton

  3. I wrote one where the protagonist is first seen free climbing. It, of course, comes into play later in the book.

    Straight From Hel

  4. OH this is fun! In my new novel, the hero has a simple conversation with someone while lighting a cigarette and mentions that he always carries matches because you never know when they'll come in handy...later on, he uses matches as part of an escape plan.

    Elle Parker

  5. Excellent post as always, Morgan. A writing instructor once told the class that it is good to give a villain some redeeming quality -- people aren't all bad.

  6. Hi Morgan, this is so interesting. I'm going to have to think about it, because if there are clues, I think they were subconscious. Maybe I need to be a little more focused with that? LOL

  7. Very good idea. I tend to forget about showing and use telling too much.

    Sexy romance by Enid Wilson

  8. You always right such very useful posts and this is a treasure. Thanks for such great guidance and taking the time to enlighten us novices.

  9. Morgan--Gee, I don't know. I never thought of anything like this--you must have over-active creative bones in your body. I will say, you've given me something neat to think about. I shall take notes and try to figure this out. Celia

  10. In our next Eva Baum novel, Eva's interesting jewlery is mentioned early on and becomes more interesting later in the book.


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