Here’s the setup. Jinx, who’s an intel gatherer for Blackthorne, Inc. and has no experience in the field, finds himself in the jungles of Mexico, escaping from the cartels. Since it’s romantic suspense, of course there’s a woman involved. They’ve met. They’ve hooked up with the Blackthorne team but due to circumstances of the plot, are going to have to do some investigating on their own. At this point in the book, there’s an attraction between Jinx and Elle, the woman, but other than a kiss, it’s all sexual tension. There’s no place for the helicopter to land, so they’re going to have to be lowered to the ground, strapped together in a harness.
The descent was in Elle’s POV, but now that they’re on the ground, Jinx is dealing with the rigors of being in the field, and is trying to concentrate on the positive, which in a romantic suspense, means he’s going to think about the heroine.
Here’s the paragraph that gave my crit partner (among others) trouble.
To keep his mind off his exhaustion, he allowed his thoughts to stray to Elle, whose footfalls behind him were surprisingly comforting. How she’d felt. pressed against him on the E-ticket ride from helo to jungle floor.
She’d never heard of an E-ticket, other than in reference to an electronic ticket for an airplane. Without going into tremendous detail, E-tickets were for the “best” rides at Disneyland until the late 70’s, early 80’s. Sally Ride referred to her space shuttle takeoff as an “E-ticket” ride. But that was in 1983. According to Wikepedia, which I checked after my CP mentioned her problem, “E ticket” has survived the discontinuation of coupon admission at Disney theme parks and has transcended into the lexicon of popular culture.
Clearly, it’s not as deeply embedded in that lexicon as I thought.
So, what do you do? I put a quick post on my Facebook page asking if anyone else “got” my reference. Many didn’t. Some looked it up. Some said they enjoy learning something new when they read.
1. Have the character explain it to another character. I use this one a lot, although when I’m in a character’s internal thoughts, as I was in the draft of this scene, that’s more difficult.
2. If it’s logical for the character to be thinking about the “explanation”, simply tell the readers. Michael Connelly does this seamlessly, and in Robert Crais’s new Suspect, where he’s dealing with a K-9, he does a lot of elaboration. In that book, it makes perfect sense since the dog’s handler is brand new to K-9, so he’s learning and letting the reader in on some new dog facts.
3. Leave it out altogether rather than create any confusion.
What about you? Any other suggestions? If you come across a reference you don’t “get”, and it’s not expanded upon, do you get frustrated? Stop to look it up? Or just keep reading, figuring if it was important, the author will get back to it.
First question for you. Did you get the E-ticket reference? If not, would you be bothered? And not just here, but in any books you’ve read.
Causes Terry Odell Supports
Pro Literacy Worldwide, The Nature Conservancy, The Adult Literacy League, The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society