Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Dropping Hints for Your Characters

I recently read a book - the author of which I will not embarrass by naming here. It was a good book, with a likeable anti-hero, plenty of suspense, intense action, and a well-designed plot. The one weakness to the book was how the author introduced a dead, mostly useless character.

Rather than simply asking a motel manager if they had any messages, the two main characters are arrested by the police. While under arrest, one of the main characters is questioned about the death of a man who was staying in their motel. This gives the secondary main character an opportunity to tell the main character about the dead man - who he was, why he was in town, and how that helps them in their current mystery.

Unfortunately, the whole chapter felt contrived and overblown. From the police kicking down a door to the easy brutality inflicted against the main character, the main point of the chapter seemed to be making the town's police force unpopular with the reader. I already knew from previous chapters that we weren't supposed to like that town's law enforcement, so I didn't need this chapter to remind me so blatantly.

That being said, I have purchased the other two books in this series. However, that was in spite of the chapter I just mentioned. The anti-hero is sufficiently likeable, and the plots are intriguing enough for me to ignore that one chapter as an unfortunate anomaly in the writing.

How would I have handled it differently? See the post above for an example and some practice prompts.

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