Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Making Gossip Work for Your Story

We've all been taught not to do it, but, let's face it, many of us do  it. So why not use it to your advantage?  You can share quite a bit of character information to your readers  by having other characters talk about them behind their backs.

I submit Kimberly Whitney and Lauren Cooper.

Kimberly Whitney from Bryony:

“Tell us about your famous musician,” Kimberly Whitney had said, her blue eyes glinting with uncharacteristic interest. She claimed not to wear contacts, but Melissa knew she was lying. Nobody’s eyes had color that clear. (Bryony, Chapter 2: There's No Such Thing as a Ghost)

“What does Kimberly look like?” he asked.
“Like us, I guess, except she has straight blonde hair and blue eyes.”
“Long lashes, too,” Laura added. “She’s really pretty.”
Officer Will quickly looked down, but Melissa swore she first saw a glimmer of recognition in his eyes. “She’s only seventeen?” His voice shook, but he cleared his throat twice and added, “Was she down on Main Street with you tonight?”
“Yes,” Laura said. “Is that important?”
His cheeks turned bright pink, but he only said, “When did you last see her?” (Bryony, Chapter 8: the Night is Darkest)

That night, on her way to bed, Melissa heard Steve say, “The poor kid,” so she tiptoed to the door.
“I hate to be callous, Steve, but Kimberly’s pulled other stunts like this.”
“She has? And Melissa associates with her? That doesn’t sound like you.”
Kimberly had often boasted how hitchhiking was easy, if you swindled the right sucker. Could Kimberly have outwitted the wrong person?
Her mother sighed. “They’d been friends since kindergarten, so Frank saw no harm if they stayed in a group. I guess we were wrong.” (Bryony, Chapter 8: The Night is Darkest)

Lauren Cooper from Staked!

Before heading toward the nursing home, Melissa stopped at Taylor’s for John-Peter’s school supplies and replacements for the clothes he’d outgrown, but this last was the easiest part of the day, since all he required was jeans and plain T-shirts: green, brown, red, orange, or yellow.  
            “Well,” Melissa said as they waited to check-out.  “When Ann calls to complain, I won’t be able to relate.”
            “Lauren is the little fashion princess, is she not?”
            Melissa grinned as the cashier moved the items down the belt. “Trenton’s demands are not far off either, from what I hear.”
            “Trenton’s style suits the future neurosurgeon. Lauren copies the pseudo-trendy.” (Staked! Chapter 5: The School Physical)

The bell rang. Trenton did not move. John-Peter picked up his tray and headed to the garbage can. Courtney Rogers, the mayor's daughter, sidled up to him. Courtney was Lauren’s best friend, which meant she only talked to John-Peter when Lauren was not around. (Staked! Chapter 6: Outcast)

“Hey, John-Peter,” Trenton said, deftly catching the apple without looking up, “did you know acoustic neuromas grow on the eighth cranial nerve in the inner ear?”
            “I do now.”
            “You’ve got to be careful removing them, too, or you can damage the seventh cranial nerve, maybe even cause hearing loss. Boy, I wish I had that now.”
            “An acoustic neuroma?”
            “No, hearing loss. I’m tired of listening to Lauren’s obsession with Curtis Chandler. She hangs on the phone all night yakking about him.” (Staked! Chapter 10: Teacher's Pet)

“John-Peter, I can hear the weeping now. I’m going to have a bad night.”
            “You broke your forceps?”
          “No, Curtis Chandler broke Lauren’s heart. Haven’t you noticed him hanging all over Karla?” (Staked! Chapter 11: A New Friend)

“Too bad you’re not going, John-Peter,” Karla said. “You should see my dress. It’s lavender with..."
            “Listen to yourself. You sound like Lauren Cooper.”
         Karla giggled. “Lauren Cooper is hopping mad. She got invited to the dance more than anyone else—a couple of guys from Jenson High even called her—but she turned them all down, because she was convinced Curtis was going to change his mind about taking me and ask her instead.” (Staked! Chapter 12: Last Choice)

Karla pushed in and tugged the boy's ear.
    “John-Peter, you listen to me. Lauren Cooper coaxed Curtis into coming home with her after the picnic. One thing led to another and…well…she threatened to tell the whole school what happened if he took me to the dance.” (Staked! Chapter 13: The Mad Scientist)

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