1. Mr. Galaxy
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    Mr. Galaxy Member

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    Question - Keeping the reader in the dark

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Mr. Galaxy, Dec 20, 2015.

    Question, what do you think about purposely being vague in your writing for the purpose of keeping the reader in the dark? Having the MC have more information about a situation then the reader for the sake of a later reveal.

    I'd like your 2 cents on this (almost enough for a soda!) so I can determine if this is a writing flop on my part or do I just have a few test readers who hate being in the dark?


    I'll elaborate a little bit to help paint the picture. The MC receives a letter that says they (the sender) have located "them" and that "they" are in a museum doing (exposition) and the MC often talks about them as "they that and it" my readers think it's "bad wording" but the truth is the "person" in question is actually a semi sentient object, and the reader isn't intended to know that until the MC gets to the museum where "it" is displaying itself. It does so love to be looked at.
     
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  2. Shbooblie
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    Shbooblie Contributing Member

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    I've been discussing this with some people on another thread. Seems that most people think that the "big reveal" should happen at it's natural point in the story, the bit where it fits in the best. As someone who is writing a story where the MC knows more than they are letting on, I my be biased, but I think it can work really well as long as it is executed skillfully. I'm doing a similar thing to your "bad wording" in that my MC is going to contradict himself a lot so the reader will be thinking "what's going on here then?!" As long as your timing is spot on and you don't make the "bad wording" instances too repetitive I'd say go for it! :)
     
  3. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    Here's the link to an article about the 'unreliable narrator' which I think you mean by the MC knowing more than they let on. (Presumably the MC is also the first-person POV-narrator character?)

    Anyway, if your MC is your POV character, this might be of use:

    http://www.nownovel.com/blog/unreliable-narrator/
     
  4. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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  5. 123456789
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    123456789 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Look, you're probably not going to do a butterfly stroke your first time in the pool. Writing isn't really any different. I've said it before and I will keep saying it- the breathtaking sunset intros, the long boring calm before the storm , and the overly mysterious and or ambiguous beginnings, these are all advanced techniques that many many aspiring writers want to try(and it's funny how they all seem proud of it) to spice up their writing. The problem is, these people dont usually realize how difficult it is even to write a standard no-punches-pulled peice. How can you purposely keep your writing ambiguous, when you haven't even practiced writing clear, cohesive prose? If your beta readers all think your writing is bad, it probably is.
     
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  6. GuardianWynn
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    GuardianWynn Contributing Member Contributor

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    Not sure if I understand your question but I will add my two cents. They may yet be of value. ;)

    To me keeping the reader in the dark is basically the art of being subtle. And that is something you should be very catious about. While I think some level of being subtle is needed. Being too subtle can ruin material. That is the short answer.

    The longer answer is sort of well. Being subtle is to be the very core of a story. It was what seperates a book from the sypnosis of book. It is pacing and all the little things that go with that. The error of hiding too much in a story can be either confusion. If a reader is not sure what is happening they may drop a book.

    I mean, I am a poor reader, so I may not be the best example, but on this site in the workshop. I have attempted to read entries but the first half a page was so overly dressed or too long winded or even too quick that I had no sense of what was happening. With no sense of what is happening I just can't get into a story. I start day dreaming. This is obviously a bad thing to do.

    I suppose that if you are talking about misleading the reader, then perhaps you will be very clear in the wrong direction, but that has its faults too, if you play up an angle too much, it might be a complete let down when you make a left turn.

    So I suppose to sum up my long winded version. Misleading the reader always has very real risks, but the reward can be worth it, butjust make sure you handle the scenes with care. If they are misunderstood, the best moment of your story could be viewed as the worst moment.
     

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