1. The Blood Countess
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    The Blood Countess Member

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    How do you make the reveal a big SURPRISE!....?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by The Blood Countess, Jun 2, 2012.

    I hatched an idea a few days ago and it is a dystopian setting. You know, dictators, failing countries, catastrophes....The usual.
    My character—let's call him Meineke(like the alcohol)—Meineke is going through a series of adventures to quench his vendetta against a group of men who killed a young boy—let's call him Lionel. Meineke finds an accomplice who he exudes information to, bit by bit, about the life of Lionel and why he is so concerned about having Lionel's murderers face justice. Near the end it is revealed that Meineke is Lionel.

    My concern is that the reader will be able to see it coming. That's the last thing I want. Meineke's falsified story is that he met Lionel months before Lionel's caretaker was murdered. He acted as a surrogate brother(older brother) and, seeing as both were going through some very tough times, they were attached at the hip. They shared everything and could rely on each other.

    Things I've done to conceal his identity:
    1) The falsified story(which is much more detailed than what you see above).
    2) Meineke never discloses information that only Lionel would know.
    3) He visits a grave quite often that exhibits the name and dates of Lionel. (It's obviously not him in the grave. There's a story behind it.)
    4) He sticks to his story fabrications, even when pressured. There's a scene to where Meineke loses his temper and screams "Lionel was there for me when no one else was!"
    5) He has a false story of where he came from, dates, locations, and even siblings.

    I'm still not satisfied with it. I think the reader will be able to figure out that Meineke is Lionel, and maybe it's because this kind of surprise is common(or is it? I haven't read a story yet with the twist, but I know they're out there.) What's something more I can do to make the reader look elsewhere and not suspect that Meineke is Lionel—However! Without making the AH-HA! moment look like I pulled it out of my butt that very second?

    Oh, and don't worry, this information isn't dropped like bombs. If it was just unloaded randomly, the reader would be quick to see it as a red-herring.
    Thank you for your help!
     
  2. Ettina
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    Ettina Active Member

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    I doubt I'd guess it. In fact, I think you're going too far in the other direction, of having so little to suggest the reveal that people are likely to disbelieve it and/or have fridge logic about it. Especially #4 on the list, unless Meineke has some sort of split personality, that really doesn't ring true for him being Lionel and hiding it.
     
  3. Reptile Hazard
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    Reptile Hazard Member

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    Maybe you think it's easy to figure out because you already know it. Try to become the reader, not the author, and then see if you can still see it coming, based on the information you reveal throughout the story.
     
  4. The Blood Countess
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    The Blood Countess Member

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    That's true. I just find it a little hard to suggest or hint that he isn't who he says he is without blowing the entire surprise. I've hinted that he has an issue with telling the truth and that he has criminal tendencies. Any other suggestions? :) I really don't want the reveal to fly out of left field, but neither do I want it to be expected.
     
  5. John Eff
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    John Eff Member

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    I doubt I'd have guessed it either, given the default assumption that two people in the same room aren't the usually same person. On that basis, I don't think you have to worry unduly about giving it away too early unless you get a little clumsy.

    In fact, rather than go for the "AHA!" reveal, you may want to consider the "DOH!" with a couple of clues hidden in plain sight.
     
  6. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Maybe it will be a surprise, maybe not. That's more a matter of the nature of the big reveal, although it is quite possible to ruin a surprise with a poor delivery.

    If it's surprising to the reader, fine. But don't make surprise your primary objective. Just tell the story, and tell it well.
     
  7. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    There will always be a few readers who see the twist coming, but most won't. Most readers just go along for the ride, and aren't constantly trying to outguess the writer (unless it's a mystery story, in which the writer is basically challenging the reader to beat the detective to the solution).

    So don't fret too much about it.
     
  8. The Blood Countess
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    The Blood Countess Member

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    Very true, guys. Thank you. :)
     
  9. Lovelina
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    Lovelina Member

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    I like the plot of seeking revenge, but I'm not a huge fan of the big surprise itself. It is a surprise and I wouldn't see it coming, but at the same time it makes me go "so? what difference does it make?" The fact that Meineke is Lionel doesn't change the core of the story.
     
  10. cuetip29
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    cuetip29 New Member

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    I think it will be an interesting twist...but, i'm one of those readers that like a few hints about something that major. You don't have to foreshadow the actual fact that he is lionel, more so that he's hiding something, or his story doesnt quite add up (which by showing that he has issues with the truth and such, you are). But don't force it so far the other way because you're worried readers will figure it out. If you make it seem completley impossible, then when the truth comes out it will seem forced and...impossible. Write it so that the reader may not understand what's going on, but thats something off. And then when you do reveal the twist, the reader smacks themselves in the head and go "duh, i should have seen that coming. it all makes sense now".

    obviously thats just my opinion as a reader. However you handle it, i think it would be a fun twist. I'm already wanting to know more lol. Good luck with it and have fun!
     
  11. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    There are very few surprises that impress me AS surprises. The revelation in Doctor Who that Captain Jack
    was the Face of Bo
    was one of the very few. Which should tell you how profound a surprise needs to be to really impress me. That one took, what, three seasons(?) of story arcs to set up. I never saw it coming, but it was such an "Oh, of course!" moment, that it was an instant of absolute beauty.

    Unless you can deliver a surprise of that magnitude and symmetry, it won't be the surprise that sells the story, at least not for me.
     
  12. The Blood Countess
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    The Blood Countess Member

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    I can understand that. The entire surprise is that it shows how certain events in Meineke's life changed him(for the worst). He's an anti-hero in the story. It's basically an "Aw, he's trying to bring justice to a boy's murderers." when it's really "Wow, what? He's doing all of this for personal gain and bloodlust?"
    Drawing a line between Meineke and Lionel is my way of showing they are almost two completely different people now. He's lost his morality.
    It's hard to explain, but it really plays a role in the story. If the twist were nonexistent, the entire story would cave in.
     
  13. Lovelina
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    Lovelina Member

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    Thanks for the explanation and elaboration, I can appreciate the surprise a bit more now and I can imagine that invested readers would enjoy the twist. Good luck with your manuscript. :)
     
  14. The Blood Countess
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    The Blood Countess Member

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    Thank you. :) It's pretty much a miniscule story arc compared to the actual main conflict. It's good to know I'm not writing worthless fairy tales.
     
  15. naturemage
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    naturemage Active Member

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    Honestly, I think the more you five the character Lionel characteristics that you don't show in Meineke, the better. It sounds like you have the surprise element all figured out really. As far as my suggestion, you could, for example, describe Lionel as very charming, and never show it in Meineke. The more you make Lionel a convincing character, and make Meineke a convincing character, the more the readers will believe they are two different people.
    Make them both individuals, and I'm sure you'll see results. You are showing signs of doubt, if you start convincing yourself it won't work, you'll start making mistakes that cause it to fail. Go with your gut, write it out the way you want, and it'll turn out fine. Like I said, just make both of them convincing characters, maybe give them different qualities (such as those Meineke would have, like determination, courage, etc.) that he wouldn't have had as Lionel before he "died."
     

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