I'm currently writing a book in which one of the characters talks about using sleeping pills, which he overdoses on at the end. This is a really important conversation because it is the first foreshadowing I'm doing, but it always feels very rushed. This is the scene:

He stretches out and grunts softly. 'I don't think I'm gonna sleep tonight...'

'Don't say that, you don't know that yet.'

He reaches over to grab his bag only to take out a bottle of sleeping pills together with one of our bottles of water.

'You sure you want to take those again?' I ask him. He's been taking them a lot more often and it's starting to worry me.

'They help.' He says, taking a little pill with a big gulp of water. 'Besides, I've been prescribed these so it's ok for me to take them.'

‘Really, when?’

‘Before I came here I used to go to the doctor almost every week. After a while I got used to it, but they would always either ask me a bunch of questions or give my some medicine. They gave me a few bottles of sleeping pills for whenever I need them but I ended up needing them a lot more now than I used to.’ He takes a second gulp of water and I slowly take the pills from him and put them back in his bag as he’s talking.

‘Sometimes I wonder if I was really just saving them up. I used to lie to the doctors and tell them I’ve been taking them so they’d give me more and now I have a bit of a collection.’ ‘Maybe it is better if you take a break off them for a while. I don’t know much about pills but I don’t feel like they’re making you get any better.’

‘I’ll be ok, if anything I’m not gonna be killed by a bunch of sleeping pills.’

He laughs, but I can't get myself to laugh with him.

3 Answers 3


The conversation is fine generally speaking. Talking MORE about it is going to make it too obvious anyway. Honestly if anything THIS conversation goes a little long... the "confession" about saving them up feels... forced?

Don't try to swallow the whole horse in one bite. Revisit the conversation a couple of times.

Introduce it at one point. Touch on it casually another time. Then have the "why do you even HAVE so many of these" and the confession after that.

Lose the "I’m not gonna be killed by a bunch of sleeping pills" altogether... unless its already known in the narrative that he is going to die. (If the story starts with "this is how my best friend died of a sleeping pill overdose" or whatever, then it is fine)


In addition to @OhkaBaka's answer, you should pay attention to your paragraphing. You've got two characters speaking in the same graph. Break them apart.

  • Please don't post answers to agree with an existing answer.
    – Chenmunka
    Commented Feb 22, 2023 at 15:53
  • 1
    @Chenmunka I'm agreeing but expanding on it. But noted. Thanks.
    – eHaraldo
    Commented Feb 22, 2023 at 16:13
  • 1
    I think your point about two characters speaking in the same paragraph is good enough to allow this to stand as an answer in its own right.
    – F1Krazy
    Commented Feb 22, 2023 at 16:23
  • @F1Krazy Got it. Thanks.
    – eHaraldo
    Commented Feb 22, 2023 at 16:27

i would recommend also adding more description in between. have the speaker notice rats running through the floorboards, the way the wind was battering at the window panes etc.

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