Clues are Handy. Doesn’t Mean You Should Wield Them Like a Meat Tenderizer.
From time to time, we writers of mysteries and thrillers stop to ask ourselves: “Are our villains a little too ‘on-the-nose?'”
That is to say: Have we painted a huge sign over the antagonist with the words “Bad Guy” painted in vivid red? If so, we need to dial back some of the descriptions. It’s supposed to be a mystery. Right?
For instance: The guy who hopped the fence at the White House this weekend. Turns out he’d been arrested a few months ago in Virginia. And he left some clues in his car that — had he been created by one of us mystery writers — would have been just a tad too obvious.
The New York Times tells us: “Among the items found in Mr. Gonzales’ vehicle in July was a mini-arsenal of 11 guns including two shotguns and four rifles, some equipped with scopes and bipods that a sniper would use and ‘a map of Washington, D.C., with writing and a line drawn to the White House,’ law enforcement officials said. He also had four pistols, three of them loaded, and a revolver.”
The only things he seemed to be missing were a jet pack, Acme explosives and a coyote.
Mystery writers: Let’s try to make our bad guys slightly less obvious.
Oh, and for those of you who think our gun laws are out of whack in this country, please take heart. The Virginia police did arrest the gentleman with the arsenal and the map with a line drawn to the White House.
He was charged with reckless driving.