1. DeathandGrim
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    DeathandGrim Contributing Member

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    Purposely Unexplained: Good or Bad?

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by DeathandGrim, Jan 18, 2013.

    So in my series there's gonna be a lot of supernatural things that happen mainly influenced by angels and demons. Only have been named Ascended and Reavers.

    Reavers are people who were exposed to demonic miasma at any occurance and Ascended are people who have been blessed by an angel. Both of these transformations come with powers: Reavers gain abilities that befit their human nature while Ascended gain powers influenced based on their past.
    It's also possible to be born as one of the two (The powers will evolve and develop with them throughout their life), but impossible to be both.

    Now in the series I'm not gonna explain any of this, directly.

    I'm taking the natural approach and letting the readers fall into it by just including Reavers and Ascended in the story and let the readers deduce what they are.
    Here's an excerpt:

    Maverick Sloan was one of the first Reavers I’ve ever known to show restraint. I mean look at him, he’s made of f---ing stone, in contrast to James who is made of flesh bone. My guess is he’d probably be able to rip James in half with his strength, but instead he chooses subservient to James, be his bodyguard and advisor.


    Here I don't say anything about what a Reaver is, but you can immediately gather that Sloan is not a normal man, made of stone, and possibly not human.

    While still giving out small hints and details throughout the plotlines for clarity I won't chuck an essay at the reader because I don't want to derail the flow of the tale.

    I wanna know what do you think, would this interest you or annoy you that it wasn't fully explained? Let me know
     
  2. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    It's a tool. Whether good or bad depends on whether you wield it like a drunk with a chainsaw or a surgeon with a number ten scalpel.
     
  3. Salamander
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    Salamander Member

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    You've already given him a distinct title, "reaver". You have to get inside the head of your reader, and think what he is going to think reading that line. As long as you sufficiently answer the question "what is a Reaver?" by the end of the story, you're golden. Purposefully not explaining some things is what gets people to read books in the first place. If you gave it all away at the beginning, nobody would read your book.
     
  4. GoldenGhost
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    GoldenGhost Contributing Member

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    I've read some advice that talks about authors writing with authority, stating things as if they are concrete, which may force the reader to accept it. Most will, and you can marble explanation throughout the narrative, especially if they read your genre frequently and understand such things, or types of people, like reavers, or mages, or vampires, or werewolves, or witches etc., exist.

    It's better to marble in information than coming right out and stating the obvious. Mystery, when done well, always intrigues a reader, and they may continue reading simply to find out what a reaver actually is, or they may form their own idea until you provide just enough information to paint them a more precise picture.
     
  5. tcol4417
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    tcol4417 Member

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    Books don't necessarily have to hold you by the hand, as long as you're aware that any readers who expect that are going to walk away.

    Frankly, I like being given a little credit by the books I read and don't mind having something left for me to figure out myself. Don't forget that the term Reaver itself carries connotations: Reaving isn't exactly kid's business.

    Leaving out irrelevant details doesn't harm your story as long as the reader knows they're irrelevant: Reavers reave and at least one of them is made of stone. Gotcha.
     
  6. DeathandGrim
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    DeathandGrim Contributing Member

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    Yea I need to break out of the habit of over explaining things sometimes because I keep thinking people will lose focus or something. Its a habit I developed over the years that always made me mad that my earlier stories and such were better without the thick layer of detail. Slowly I've been relearning why that was: because I left the imagination to the reader and not the writer
     
  7. Ian J.
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    Ian J. Active Member

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    This again brings up a factor for which there is no easy answer, particularly when it comes to fantasy: how much information/baggage does the reader bring with them? I don't know what a 'reaver' is, or what reaving is (it seems to be an invented term and to have been used in a variety of different contexts in fiction), so without that foreknowledge I would prefer a little more description. But to someone who knows what reaving is, that same description would get in the way. So in this case the knowledge of your intended audience needs to be taken into account. However, I think it's true to say that slowly revealing information about something as the book goes on is far better than rushing it out all at once, and that hints are more enticing to a reader than outright descriptions.
     

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