Skeletal remains….

Perhaps there, under that flowering mass of forsythia….no, no.  Once the fall arrives those fountains of tiny green leaves will dry up and everything underneath will be uncomfortably exposed.   Hmmm….the fallen hollow log straight ahead? No, no.  Everyone looks in the fallen trees.  So obvious.  Where to put the….oh, wait…. 180° degrees to the left and eureka!  Natural rock formations with enough crevices to throw off the search party – brilliant!  Only those with keen eyes will notice any disturbance to the pile.  Now for the hard part: making it happen.  Sheesh, sure wish someone would help me drag this body…..

Let me preface the rest of this post with no, I am not a serial killer.  Okay, maybe in my head when the storyline calls for it, but the day-to-day – not so much. Yet hiding a body is basically what fiction writers have to accomplish in every story.  Not literal bodies (although in some genres there are those too), but clues and hints embedded into the work that will eventually lead to the GRAND FINALE.

To quote my friend Linda, “ Who would hide a body without considerable thought?”

Careful crafting must be used to move a reader from the opening of a story to a satisfactory finish.   No one wants to be hit over the head with the obvious. Clues and tie-ins need to flow naturally, woven into the mesh framework of your tale.   At some point we’ve all encountered the book that self deflates too soon.  The story that gives away the ending somewhere in the first few chapters leaving the reader with a painfully slow ride to the finish point.

Then there are the gems.  Stories that have us believing we have it all under control and then boom – a sudden twist that blindsides us while still having the ability to leave us, the reader,  with that “duh, it seems so obvious now” moment.   For a writer, finding that balance is the equivalent of the fabled end of the rainbow pot of gold.

So, how does a writer hide these bodies throughout the story?  The answer is subjective because, like all things in art, it depends on the working style of the composer.  For myself, I find it helpful to add some tie-ins during the rewrite period.   Little things that help to solidify the basic who, what, when, where, and whys of the story so that what happens at the end is a natural result of all that came before.  For example, if my villain shows up with an antique Scottish Basket Hilt Style Broadsword from the early 1900s as her weapon of choice then earlier in the story there would be a reference blurb. Something along the lines of one statement regarding the family owning an import business or that she was an expert in ancient antiquities.   Something small and innocuous, subtle enough to plant the seed that keeps the arrival of the sword from being shocking and out-of-place within the context of the story.

What if you find yourself stranded in the woods with no place to stash the corpse?  First, adding more foliage to the branches of your main idea helps.  Maybe you need to add a building or another character that can house the clue.    Next, take another look at your story from all angles.   Where can you find a corner to add a clue?  Still not seeing your own rock formation?  Enlist a fresh set of eyes – friends, family, and beta readers – maybe they can find the cave that you missed.

For extra help hiding your bodies check out the Writer’s Digest website:  http://www.writersdigest.com   In addition to great articles and contests this site contains links to 100s of other websites that can help you on your writing journey.

So, with that, I will leave you for the day.  Need to run to Lowe’s® for a shovel……

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