Subtle Hints in the Narrative
by Kathryn Sparrow
I love it when authors put subtle hints in the narrative. Perhaps, it would be more accurate to say I love it when there is a subtle hint that I pick up on. Sometimes, I’ll notice something that seems like an odd detail to highlight, but later, as I’m reading, it becomes clear.
When this is done well, clarity comes at the exact moment the author wants and not before. I love that!
You’ll have to let me know how I did with subtle hints in Devil’s Bargain because I tried to put them there. The story starts off like a contemporary, but it’s a paranormal fantasy so that alone gives the reader some hint that all may not be what it seems. If I’ve done my job well, then all those little hints will lead up to the reveals as they happen.
As a writer, I want to know if people saw the hints I left and if I made them too bold and obvious. My critique partners were able to help with this. Especially those that read two drafts. A few of them asked if things they were noticing in the second read had been there in the previous draft. Sometimes they hadn’t. I try to learn from all feedback and improve my craft. But sometimes, the things they noticed had been there. They just took on new significance because they now knew the ending.
The elevator opened into a small lobby with a single door. A label to the side of the door read Royal Flush Suite. A fancy wooden chair with blue upholstery sat to the right of the door. The Statler had only one suite on the top floor? Space was so limited on the Cornell campus; there should have been several smaller suites.
The little man led him through the door into a small sitting room. A large, midnight blue velvet couch with little gold button accents reminiscent of the night sky sat flanked by two satin navy and beige striped chairs. A dark wood coffee table with intricately carved legs stood in the middle.
The table legs resembled cherubim, with little wings, holding bows and arrows. Bizarre. Wouldn’t the legs be carved like the bell tower or some other Cornell icon? Maybe this was what the rich donors expected when staying in the Statler’s penthouse.