According to the U. S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Americans dispose of more than three billion batteries each year. There are batteries for every purpose including vehicles, computers, toys, personal grooming, and medical products. Then, why aren’t batteries included as a vital element in our novels?
Imagine this scene. The hillside view outside the top floor restaurant is resplendent with stars twinkling above city lights far below. The twice-divorced protagonist pops the question of marriage as he fingers the ring hidden in his pocket. The silence is filled with joyous anticipation of acceptance coupled with a fear of denial. “Could you speak up,” the intended bride responds. “My hearing aid battery is dead.”
Another scenario: A private investigator stands in a grungy alley between two high-rise apartments on a dark, chilly evening. He’s determined to close this case before his surgical procedure the next morning. “I’ve got the money if you’ve got the name,” the PI whispers as he fans a handful of cash in the low light. Beep! Beep! The informant makes a fast escape when the PI’s heart monitor signals a weak battery needs replacement.
Okay, I’ll admit these scenes are extreme, but consider this. You don’t mention that your protagonist changes the flashlight batteries before a search because it’s a common-sense action. Your goal is to show his weakness when his flashlight dims and leaves him in the dark in a strange place. Why? Suspense. You want the reader to be apprehensive, or even afraid, for the protagonist.
I’ll keep my PI in the dark while he stumbles to his stakeout vehicle to change the heart sensor battery hanging beneath his shirt. But, I’ll make the intended bride a lip reader. The suspense will be in the anticipation of her reply. anticipation of her reply.