by Donna K. Weaver
Anyone who's read the Harry Potter series knows that Jo Rowling is the queen of "things hidden in plain sight". For example, that Vanishing Cabinet that Draco uses to bring Death Eaters into Hogwarts in Half Blood Prince appears first in two other books. The first is in Chamber of Secrets when Nearly Headless Nick gets Peeves to break it in an effort to help Harry. Then in Order of the Phoenix, the Weasley twins shove a Slytherin prefect into it, and he has all kinds of problems. That's probably when it got moved to the Room of Requirement where Draco found it.
Mooderino over at Moody Writing wrote an excellent blog post about adding depth to scenes a couple of years ago. Here's a sample:
3. Use objects
Whatever the main aim of the scene appears to be, the underlying point of any story is to reveal character. Who they are is best shown by what they do. And using the stuff around them is an easy and unobtrusive way to do that.
If the blackmailer and his victim meet in a steak house, and the victim asks for a glass of water, and then when it arrives he takes a napkin, wets it, and then cleans the stains off the laminated menu, that tells us a lot about the kind of person he is. Plus he can be doing that sequence of events in between his conversation with the blackmailer.
You can find the full post here.
How about you? Do you have some favorite techniques that either you or other writers use?