Little things that make stories more real for you

I’m going through old books to decide which to keep, which to sell, which to donate to the public library, and which to use as kindling for the bonfire on which their author shall be murdered. (I’m holdinga hardback :mad: copy of Hannibal and looking at you, Thomas Harris! I want back the three hours I wasted on that piece of shit !) Anyway, in the “should toss but won’t” pile is an old paperbook anthology of Star Trek short stories.

In one deliberately silly tale, the Enterprise is on shore leave, and Spock & McCoy have, again, had to manipulate/order Kirk to take some time off. Unfortunately a crisis arises which requires the crew to be recalled. Kevin Riley, summoned from the bedroom but not the bed of a local girl, is on the bridge, complaining creatively and profanely; the omniscient narrator notes, in passing, that everyone on the bridge is offended except for Spock & Uhura, who both make a point of listening carefully. Uhura’s not a native English speaker, you see, but only learned the language in school, so she’s never come across the worst profanities; and while Spock learned the language earlier in life than she did, it was from his mother, who, understandably, did not include words like motherfucker in her vocabular lessons, much less her everyday speech.

I’ve always loved that little bit. It just seems real.

Anybody else want to talk about little things in short stories, novels, plays, or whatnot that have no real bearing on plot or characterization but which add to the verisimilitude?

Odd that mention Thomas Harris, because in his early works he did a great job of this. I did not even try to finish Hannibal, but in Red Dragon and Silence of the Lambs, he did things like what I think you are after.

There is a scene in Silence Of The Lambs where Clarice is laying in bed obsession over wither or not Lecter is going to target her. She can’t sleep and finally mumbles to herself: Fuck this. Her roommate says:
Roomate: You are over there corrupting a moron aren’t you?
Clarice: ??
Roomate: You are over there corrupting a moron. You can’t just say what you said, you have to say where and how and … well the why will become apparent.

It was a great little scene. It shows that the roommate is laying there worrying about Clarice, without actually saying it. It is a bit of little nonsense that made the characters more real.

I have others from his books, but I must go back to work.

Mentioning Harris was deliberate, because he used to be the king of such details. I hate him more because I once loved him so. :smiley: