|Forensics team at murder scene|
Hmmm. Question. How much information do you have to give the reader? I believe you have to play fair and let the reader know what the main character knows. The detective can’t find a note under the calendar that gives her a major clue and not share the information with the reader.
Withholding important information from the reader, things the main character learns, is cheating in my opinion. It can be up to the reader to put things together and figure out the answer, but the information should be there so she has the same chance as the main character to solve the problem.
Planting clues before you need them is a good way to hide them in plain sight. If you slide them in with something more dramatic or attention-getting, the reader is likely to focus on the dramatic event and not remember the clue.
I'm working on the ending of a story now, and I have a scene with a body. The main character doesn’t know who it is at first, but she sees something that she connects with one of the other characters. No one has seen the person’s face yet, but she remembers the something. The reader saw it when she did, so he or she has the same chance to remember. But I don’t spell it out for a while. Is that fair? I think it is. But you can decide in November when Time of Death comes out.