1. picklzzz
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    picklzzz Senior Member

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    Let me ask you this...

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by picklzzz, Jan 31, 2012.

    Hi all. I'd like your opinion on the following:

    If you are reading a thriller/mystery type of novel, are you more excited or satisfied if you read clues all along but are mystified, and then it all comes together in the climax and after?

    OR

    Do you like to get some clue by reading scenes from the antagonist during the novel - all without knowing his/her identity or exactly what's going on?

    I am writing a story (novel idea) about a group of rogue scientists that are conducting an experiment in a town. I thought it would be interesting if for each thing they create/study, I can have a scene with an observer from the science team writing down what's going on to the subjects, or better yet, post a page or so that looks like a scientific report of observations. This would clue in the reader (but not the characters - is this sort of a cozy style?) and give the readers some sort of clue during the story.

    I personally find it interesting to get a view into the killer's mind or the person who is causing the conflict - makes me feel like I'm in on a secret that the main characters don't know.

    Thanks for your replies!
     
  2. jc.
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    jc. Contributing Member

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    I find both interesting.

    I think I like the second idea more. It reminds me somewhat of a game called Heavy Rain where different parts of the story have different POV's. There are a few with the antagonist that reveals little pieces about him but never entirely gives him away. There are parts where you're the protagonist. There are also some supporting characters who discover different clues that eventually bring them all together.

    The game does a great job of revealing just enough so that you think you know but are still dying to find out.
     
  3. TDFuhringer
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    TDFuhringer Contributing Member Contributor

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    Both are good. But since you asked for an opinion...

    I would much rather be surprised. Satisfyingly surprised though. It's got to work. 'Keyser Sose' surprised is good. "Oh wow that totally makes sense!" When it does't fit, when it makes you say "Thats B.S.". That kind of surprised is no fun.
     
  4. picklzzz
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    picklzzz Senior Member

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    That's kind of what I was going for! I have a MC and two main supporting characters, but I was thinking of the main scientist and his underlings also as supporting characters. One of my very favorite experiences in reading was in actually listening! I read Carrie by Stephen King and also saw the movie (most of us have), but on a trip once my sister had a book on tape (which I never listened to before) of Carrie, and it was great! It was read by Sissy Spacek, and the whole story was told by newspaper clippings describing the events. I learned more about the characters this way than even the book. I'm not sure why this one was so different, but it made it such a different story to be told this way. It was funny because on the trip, we'd reached our destination and just kept driving because we wanted to keep listening. Neither of us could care less about where we were going at that point! That's how great it was. I love alternative story-telling like that, from an unexpected perspective. I think lab or observation reports at least clue the reader in that it's not an alien story and there's something scientific going on, but they won't know who or what (maybe over time). Then, the characters have to discover who or what and stop it.

    At least for tonight, that's where I'm headed. Who knows what will be in the morning!
     
  5. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    i'm interested in good writing and good stories, period!...

    a good writer can get me to keep reading no matter how the story goes... don't EVER let your writing be determined by how a handful of people answer your questions about how to go about it...

    do enough reading by good writers so you can absorb all the ways there are to tell a story and then just tell yours in the way you want and can do it best...
     
  6. picklzzz
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    picklzzz Senior Member

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    Thanks, Mammamaia! Good advice. I was just curious. I guess I have to go with my gut and see. I think though with the technical details of the story, some insight before the climax will help the reader to understand more of what's going on so it will make sense in the end. I just am now trying to figure out how to make it not so obvious to the reader and characters while at the same time not so far out there that no one gets it either. It's a delicate balance to achieve, I am learning. I usually guess the ending to every book and movie (I don't know why - I just do), so I'm challenging myself, I guess.

    By the way, how do you determine a good writer? Is it based on the way the story made you feel? If it was clever enough or intricately / simply told or what?
     
  7. Miss Jo
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    Miss Jo Member

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    To your original question I really do like both and it really depends on how you write it. I like a surprise at the end with little hints all the way through like Sixth Sense because that makes me want to go over it again and see what I missed because it all makes perfect sense in the end. But I love being in the mind of the killer who has no body. Getting that POV always adds a lot more excitement for me. I think the latter can make things more suspenseful for a new writer but the former can be really well executed if you take the time for planning.
     
  8. MegTheLedge
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    MegTheLedge Member

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    Both ideas sound intriguing to me. I do like the second one more I think it'd be interesting to know what's going on in the antag's mind at all times.
     
  9. picklzzz
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    picklzzz Senior Member

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    The things I want to keep secret and reveal slowly are: this is an experiment and the town's inhabitants are the subjects; the identity of the ringleader; what exactly is going on. I have a series of clues to work in, but I still don't want to make it too obvious. The technology is made up (although I think we're close to what I have in mind - perhaps within fifty years) so the reader may not be able to get the specifics but can feel the gist of it perhaps three-quarters through. I guess I have to plan those milestones when parts are revealed. It's just hard to know when to let each cat out of the proverbial bag. Is there any rule of thumb for this? Some stories kind of let the reader know about halfway through and then the second phase of the book is about the characters trying to stop or overcome the conflict. Maybe it shouldn't all be saved for the end?

    I don't think I want to share just what the antagonist is thinking. This may give too much of his identity away (and while writing this, I just thought of a great person of my list of characters that it could be!)

    I think the lab reports and observations of the "subjects" revealed to the readers but not the characters can be an interesting way of departing clues and information to the reader while still keeping the characters in the dark. I was also thinking of having a subplot be a contest that the three likely successors to the ringleader will participate in, and then two move on to the interview phase, and the winner will take over in the event the ringleader is killed. That can promise a good ending that may lead to a second book or a series. I like partially open-ended stories.
     
  10. quincarroll
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    quincarroll Member

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    IMHO...

    Surely, you have a story you want to tell? This story it yours and you obviously want people to like it, but the story is still yours.

    I like stories that do both. Not in the same story, but you know what I mean.

    When I read a book, usually by an author that I like, I enjoy the story that the author has to tell, because he/she is telling it the way he/she feels it should be told. If I like the way the story is told, then that's great, but if not, then I'm probably not going to read that author again, unless I know that that book may be a bad one in a long line of good ones.

    My point is that you aren't going to be able to keep everyone happy. Some people are going to love what you decide to write about, and others won't. I think you should write the story that you want to write, in the style you want to tell it in, and if people don't like it, then so be it. You told your story the way you wanted to tell it.

    Or are you writing to cater to how someone else wants you to write your story? If so, give it to them to write!
     
  11. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    by how s/he uses words properly and effectively, the quality and reader-engaging level of the story, and the accuracy/authenticity of detail, settings, etc.
     

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