1. Killer300
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    Killer300 Active Member

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    Not Telling

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Killer300, Jun 9, 2011.

    Okay, how long is it okay to leave a reader in the dark about details in a plot? For example, if one were to use media ras(start in the middle of things just in case someone isn't sure about that), how long can one write a plot without telling the reader about it? Is it okay to perhaps never tell the origin of things?

    I know in horror stories that a lot can be left in the dark, but how much? In a non-surrealist plot, how much can you keep completely in the dark? Very curious about this.
     
  2. JimFlagg
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    JimFlagg Contributing Member

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    Plots help move the story forward. You can leave out as much as you want but without them the story moves slowly and may bore the reader but it can also hook the reader and make them want to know more. It is a fine line to walk. Its funny how much they are reliant on each other. You can't make a plot with out a story but you can't write a story with out a plot. I like to use sub-plots to fill in these boring areas so I do not need to reveal all of the main plot until I want to and still not bore the reader.
     
  3. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    You want to be sure not to give the feeling that you're just dragging him along with one gimmick after another. If I withhold anything in the plot, it has to be for a reason that is plausible within the story. There was another thread on this kind of thing recently (ie. last week or so), where the concern was withholding information about the MC.
     
  4. Killer300
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    Killer300 Active Member

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    Ah. Wait, wasn't there a thread also on how to exposit information? If someone could link me to that, I would appreciate it.

    Besides that, I ask this because in horror stories for example, tons of information is on purpose withheld to unsettle the reader. The question is, how does one balance that with keeping the reader informed?

    As for moving the plot, well, I remember reading in a guide everything in a story are either actions or revelations. Every time you give information about the plot, many times you can't have action, because it's a revelation. Sometimes, you can have both, but you can't always do this. Badly handled revelations cause things like infodumps.

    I ask this now because I may be writing a story soon where almost no information is given on the situation for the first half of the book about the setting or situation. That half will let the reader get to know the characters instead.
     
  5. Mallory
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    Mallory Mallegory. Contributor

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    It's okay to withold until the end, or close to it, if it's some kind of major plot twist (like in "Shutter Island," "Hide and Seek" "The Matrix" etc to use movies as an example).

    As you've said, in horror or scifi, if there's some disturbing element that's creepier when left to the imagination, it's okay to never reveal it.

    What it's NOT okay to do is set the reader up for a huge reveal, and then...nothing. Like in a mystery, if the entire book is spent investigating the suspects but then you never know who did it, that's not cool.

    What kind of secret are you referring to?
     
  6. Killer300
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    Killer300 Active Member

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    Well, it isn't just one, there are three in this case. The first is the origin of the situation they're in, the second is the origin of where the main character(where he came from among other things) and the final one is just lots of backstory. I want to be able to for one half to just let the character do stuff, no revelations.
     
  7. Mallory
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    Mallory Mallegory. Contributor

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    Depends on what kind of backstory. If it's something like where they grew up, or whether they're rich or poor, it's better to establish it early on to give readers a sense of connection with the character. Also, if there's some huge secret throughout the book but then in turns out to be that the MC was poor as a kid when he's rich now, that'll feel like a huge boring letdown.

    If it's something huge...about abuse, or the MC being some conspirator who got all the characters into the mess they're in, or being an unreliable narrator...then I'd say it's okay to hold off.

    Again, can you be more specific? What kind of backstory, for example.
     
  8. Killer300
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    Killer300 Active Member

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    Well, backstory wise, there are some small details that will be revealed later(no buildup towards them though so no let down hopefully) and a couple big ones that provide the reason the characters are in the area they are in to begin with. There are three main characters, all of whom have lots of secrets.

    The situation there in is... very bizarre. Basically, they are in an area where the laws of reality don't quite apply for some reason.
     
  9. darkhaloangel
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    darkhaloangel Active Member

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    Keep this 'hidden' informatio until the story cannot move forwards anymore.
     

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