Okay, one of MANY tricks I learned from Dave Farland. Just a word of advise, if you want to know about writing, go and find someone who knows a lot, ask them questions and actually listen to their answers. Trust me, you'll learn tons from an actual author who's been around the block a few times.
Back to the trick. Now that I think about it, maybe I'll do an entire Trick to Treat theme in October. Someone remind me, because it's kind of a brilliant idea.
Anyway, the trick...
And this can be used to be nice or to be mean to characters.
Let's say that your character is about to get a birthday present. All he's wanted since he saw it on Think Geek is a set of Dr. Who ice cube trays.
Simple, yes? And the package feels about the right size. He shakes it, and it doesn't feel too heavy. This one is from his best friend—the guy who he told exactly what he wanted for his birthday.
He pictures making little Dalek and TARDIS ice cubes and putting them into his Soda Stream energy drink. He can dazzle his D&D group with this impressive addition to their already more than entertaining gaming sessions. He will be sure to be the talk of the group for weeks to come. And when that wears off, he'll use the trays to make chocolates.
He will own gaming night!
As this progressions marches through his head, he tears open the stripped gift wrap, rips open the Think Geek cardboard box beneath, pulls out the bubble wrap to find...tickets and a mask for a high society charity ball sponsoring an event that he doesn't even agree with!
AND, he is expected to go and be social, because his friend already put their name in and volunteered them to be part of the charity auction.
This is the point when he figures out something is seriously wrong with his friend.
Now that's mean.
You can also go the other way (If for some reason you're feeling nice, or the character needs a break). Let the character dwell on how horrible something is going to be (say the charity ball) and then turn it around to be the greatest thing that ever happened. Until the next horrible thing goes wrong, which shouldn't take long.
So there you go! #BeMeanToCharacters