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I have a scene where my MC discovers the hidden mobile phone of one of his multiple personalities. He manages to unlock it accidentally purely by muscle memory, but he won't be able to do so again - that was just a fluke.

Yeah, I know. Stick with me

This phone is absolutely critical to the MC discovering the truth regarding that specific personality. Specifically, he looks at excerpts from three text conversations in order to advance the plot.

He then puts the phone down "because he doesn't have the heart to read any more" after discovering a betrayal.

This feels flimsy. I wouldn't do that. I'd keep reading. I'd go through all the texts, internet history, emails, anything I could find if I thought I needed to. But for the sake of brevity, he must turn the phone off.

Why would he do that?

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    Seems very close to What to write? or Questions with too many possible answers... – paulzag Nov 17 '17 at 3:26
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    Welcome to Writers. This is an idea generation question, which is off topic here. We are not here to help you come up with ideas, which would be of no help to anyone else. We are here to help you express ideas (which can be of help, at least indirectly, to others). Please feel free to ask questions of that type. – user16226 Nov 17 '17 at 12:09
  • Perhaps the phone ran out of batteries. Perhaps the other personality is sloppy and doesn't keep a well-charged phone. Perhaps the messages were deleted and he needs to use a special program to restore them. – Tallima Nov 17 '17 at 20:14
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Use your character

You may be the sort of person who checks the internet history, emails and all other evidence, but it is important that your Main Character is not.

Therefore you could, you must, show that he would immediately understand the betrayal from the snippets. Something in his character then stops him from digging deeper. This can't be a poor decision or a coincidence. It must be a direct, logical and inevitable response by your MC. It helps if that is one of the main themes you are exploring in this story.

Like someone discovering a cheating partner, people react differently to finding evidence. Some protagonists will dig through to find every detail. Others will pack a bag and move out immediately. There's a range of actions in between those extremes.

Possibilities

  • self-preservation behaviour is to not torture himself with the details.
  • shock (or fractured mental state) causes black-out or physical sickness
  • races out to talk to the best friend about what he's found
  • drops the phone in shock an it breaks
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    I agree with the above. Not everyone behaves the same way when faced with betrayal. Someone could just fling the phone on the ground and it opens, the battery falling out. There are a multitude of other options, all you need to do is picture the scene in your head and find the one you like. – A.T. Catmus Nov 19 '17 at 21:00

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