1. heyharris1
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    heyharris1 Senior Member

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    is it good to keep readers quessing sometimes.

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by heyharris1, Jul 8, 2008.

    i was just curious. is it beter to keep people quesing sometimes. for instance, when the villian is introduced in my book i dont go into any great detail about him, but you clearly know he's the villian. is that ok or should i go into full detail. i was thinking by not explaining everything it will keep the reader quessing and wanna keep reading.
    jim
     
  2. Becca D
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    Becca D Member

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    It really depends on what you want the story to be like. I'd say that in many cases, though, it's better not to overload your readers with too much info. On the other hand, will you be holding back information that's vital to understanding the plot?

    Personally, I prefer not knowing everything, at least not all at once. If you think about it in real life, you get to know people over a period of time. Stories should usually present their characters in a similar fashion, unless it’s necessary for the plot to know a lot about a certain character.
     
  3. ManOfSteel
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    ManOfSteel Member

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    I wouldn't tell the reader: "hey, this one's the villan!". I'd keep it obscure.
    When reading something I like it when I don't even know who's REALLY who, but it becomes more and more obvious through their actions as the story goes on.
    But of course it may all depend on the type of story you're writing.
     
  4. InkDancer
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    InkDancer Senior Member

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    It also depends on the length of the story. If I'm holding a novel, I don't want to know everything at once. If I did, why keep reading? But a short story has a more accelerated pace.

    If you decide to hide details from the reader, you need to make sure of two things--
    1) Is it realistic to keep those details hidden? In the context of the story, I mean. In other words, would the characters in the story be hiding those details for reasons of their own, unrelated to plot?

    2) Is the character interesting without those details? If nothing else, you have to give us enough to make us interested.
     
  5. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    You always, always want the reader to have more questions that answers, with the possible exception of the last paragraph of the story - and I'd rather the reader still have something unanswered to ponder even then.

    Questions keep the reader curious. If you give answers as quickly as the questions arise, the reader has little incentive to keep reading.

    This applies to little questions like "Why is he in the park at 5 AM?" when you begin a story to the major questions like "Who was it that fired the fatal shot?" In the first example, you could tell the reader that he jogged that path every morning, or you could start with him running, and let the reader wonder for a moment whether he is chasing someone, being chased, or simply exercising.

    Anytime you have a choice, give the reader something to ask a question about.
     
  6. adamant
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    adamant Contributing Member Contributor

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  7. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    if it wasn't, writers wouldn't have been doing so, ever since the first stories appeared on cave walls!... the trick is in knowing when and how to do it so it works...
     
  8. Sato Ayako
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    Sato Ayako Contributing Member

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    It depends to what degree you're making your readers "guess".

    Making your reader "guess" is essential. I write that word in quotes because I never thought of reading a story or book as a guessing game. It's actually a puzzle. You start with a certain portion of the puzzle. Maybe you start with the edges and slowly fill in the middle. Or you might start in the middle, throwing your reader in to fend for themselves.

    Sometimes, just to be mean, you might pick up the table that puzzle is on, slam it on the ground, and force the reader to rearrange the pieces.

    If you do it correctly, you have a reader who's fascinated with the story and characters you've created. They want to know what happens. You've given them enough pieces of the puzzle to create part of a picture. Now they want to read on and get the rest.

    Some of them will guess the puzzle right off. If too many do that, then you didn't withhold enough of the pieces.

    Some won't be able to guess the puzzle at all and, even when it's completed, they still don't have the whole picture. Do that--make your pieces too complex--and you'll annoy the readers.

    One of the general guidelines of writing is: never, EVER tell your reader more than they need to know at any given moment. If you do that, they'll have enough information to continue, but not enough to guess events that happen, how characters develop, etc.

    Finally, this is only a pet peeve of mine, but you really shouldn't have to ask if it's "okay" to do something in your writing. (There are exceptions, such as asking if it's okay to use someone else's world, characters, or what have you.) Write what you want to write. You won't necessarily write something publishable, but you won't write publishable material, either, if you ask if something's "okay" too much. I wanted to tell you that because I spent five years of my writing life asking that same question and I feel it really retarded my growth as a writer.

    Good luck. Keep writing.
     
  9. cargirl86
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    cargirl86 Member

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    I love this! Thanks for the informative post.
     
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  10. heyharris1
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    heyharris1 Senior Member

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    thanks for all the responses. you guys are great
    jim
     

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