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Sunday, May 19, 2013

Little Scenes

One of the fun things about writing the Jack Watson books is the little scenes. Sometimes, these are from the antagonist's point of view, and I use them to provide updates on what the baddies are up to, supplying (hopefully) an element of suspense. I also sometimes include them to define something about one of the characters.

But my favorites are those where I'm providing hidden clues and especially making up incidental characters. Those one-scene characters often must be memorable so that they pop into the reader's head when mentioned later. An example from "The Changeling Kill" is Little Bobby, an informant. In "The Janus Games," I just invented a gun dealer aliased as Jerry Nefarious. The killer goes to him for a weapon, complete with the sleazy dump of a house where Jerry conducts business and a code name the killer uses to gain access. As the two of them verbally circle each other, small clues are dropped. Of course, I'm only on Chapter 5, so they are very small clues. The setting is a great opportunity to paint word pictures.

Names for these incidental characters are fun, too. Since they are only mentioned once, I don't have to worry too much about name similarities. I believe I addressed this before (see the page "Observations for New Authors") where in an unpublished novel, I had a good guy named Michael and a bad guy named Maxwell. When they get into hand-to-hand combat near the end, it becomes confusing as to who hit whom because the names look so similar. For one-scene characters, I also don't worry about reusing a name now and then. It's only natural that anyone would encounter more than one Tom or Jerry or whatever along the way, but never in the same book.

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