Tags:
  1. Smithy
    Offline

    Smithy Senior Member

    Joined:
    May 1, 2008
    Messages:
    155
    Likes Received:
    0

    Revelations and teasers

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by Smithy, Jun 4, 2008.

    I'd like some advice on a little matter that's been bothering me for a while:

    I have a character called Gideon. He has been, at various points in his life, a war hero, a member of a secretive black ops unit, he once tried to betray his country to the big bad and murdered his own brother before running away from his privileged background and spending ten years in the wilderness prior to the start of the story.

    Naturally you don't find this out all at once, and most of it is only revealed after he has been arrested for his brother's murder, but the way I've written at the moment there are hints dropped left right and centre that theres something not quite right about the story he feeds the two protagonists, something that is even lampshaded by the characters themselves at one point.

    My question is, should I leave it the way it is or should I try and up the ZOMG effect by getting rid of a lot of the hints along the way?
     
  2. Scribe Rewan
    Offline

    Scribe Rewan Contributing Member

    Joined:
    May 22, 2008
    Messages:
    371
    Likes Received:
    2
    It depends what the hints are like, I suppose. I personally like hints that are so tiny you dont know they're hints, until you read the story a second time and think 'why didn't i notice?!'

    I suppose as long as it's a shock to the reader, that's all you need. What are the hints like, if you don't mind me asking? Can you give a few examples- it might help us decide.
     
  3. Lucy E.
    Offline

    Lucy E. Contributing Member

    Joined:
    May 25, 2008
    Messages:
    898
    Likes Received:
    4
    Yes, examples would be appreciated.

    Subtly hinting at future events is just fine, in my opinion - it's when the hints reach a point where the reader is able to work out what's going to happen for sure that this becomes a problem.
     
  4. Scribe Rewan
    Offline

    Scribe Rewan Contributing Member

    Joined:
    May 22, 2008
    Messages:
    371
    Likes Received:
    2
    'Subtly hinting at future events is just fine, in my opinion - it's when the hints reach a point where the reader is able to work out what's going to happen for sure that this becomes a problem'- exactly.

    From your post you make it sound as though it can be worked out quite easily what Gideon has done. If that's true then I think you should tone it down a bit. Otherwise your big twist wont be a twist at all.
     
  5. Cogito
    Offline

    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    May 19, 2007
    Messages:
    35,935
    Likes Received:
    2,043
    Location:
    Massachusetts, USA
    Also, be sure to throw in some irrelevant (but still consistent with the story) hints that lead away from the truth.

    A fine example I recently read was Sue Grafton's S is for Silence. A woman disappeared half a century ago, and betweeen chapters that reveal scenes from around her disappearance and interviews with the same people in the present, Grafton weaves a tapestry of strong motives, any of which could have led to her disappearance. Nearly everyone involved had secrets to hide, but only one was directly relevant to the solution.

    Naturally, this kind of misdirection is characteristic of the mystery genre, but this happens to be one I recently finished reading that exemplifies the technique beautifully.
     
  6. Kratos
    Offline

    Kratos Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Apr 19, 2008
    Messages:
    791
    Likes Received:
    14
    Location:
    Maryland, United States
    You should leave some clues, because if you pull it out of no where, the readers will feel cheated. You should do something that won't make the readers suspect anything at first, but looking back, they realize it.
     
  7. Smithy
    Offline

    Smithy Senior Member

    Joined:
    May 1, 2008
    Messages:
    155
    Likes Received:
    0
    Examples, examples

    He tells Michael and Jacob, the two protags, that the reason they are hunting mcguffins is to keep them out of the hands of the big bad. However, these mcguffins are each guarded by some vicious monsters and other defences, whereas they are just three ordinary blokes. When asked why they are better guardians of them than the monsters and magical defences, he doesn't have a convincing answer, because the real answer he wants to resurrect the brother he murdered in the hopes that he will be forgiven.

    One of the mcguffins is in the house that he grew up in, but most people it is in the palace (there is a fake in the palace, the genuine article is in Gideon's old family home) and Jacob says "well if Quirian grabs the fake it won't make any difference will it?" before Gideon says that Quirian knows where the real one is. He doesn't say how he knows this. The answer is because he told Quirian all about the fake himself.

    In another POV, the son of the brother Gideon murdered thinks about his father's death in terms of 'murder' and 'treachery' which is not what one would associate with the death in battle described by Gideon to Michael.

    The elite force of which Gideon was a part was disbanded ten years ago after it was found that it could not be controlled. This is the same year that Gideon's brother died and that Gideon fled. Might there be a connection between the three?

    Gideon has a special fighting technique which enables him to go into a sort of berserk state where he does not feel pain and can sweep aside any opponent. So why hasn't he used this to kill the big bad? Because the Champion's Fervour (name of the technique) depends on a sense of righteousness over your opponent, and Gideon and Quirian know too much about one another for him to ever feel able to take the moral high ground, because they're old friends and Quirian knows what a prick he used to be.
     
  8. Samus Aran
    Offline

    Samus Aran Member

    Joined:
    Jun 12, 2008
    Messages:
    19
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Planet Corneria

    I agree.

    If you can manage to weave a plot twist that makes the reader think they have it figured out and then come up with something completely different that still makes sense, that would be brilliant.
     
  9. InkDancer
    Offline

    InkDancer Senior Member

    Joined:
    Jun 10, 2008
    Messages:
    116
    Likes Received:
    1
    Location:
    Sayville, NY
    The Harry Potter novels are great examples of that technique.

    If you're dropping a bombshell on your reader, you've got to make it feel justified by everything that preceded it. Otherwise, it comes across as a deus ex machina, or a coincidence too huge to be believed.

    The best rule of thumb I heard is to ask yourself this: after the bombshell has been dropped, what would happen if the reader started the book over? Would she say, "I should have seen that coming!" and smack herself on her head, or would she say, "Ah, he's just making it up as he goes along."
     
  10. jim90
    Offline

    jim90 Member

    Joined:
    Jun 15, 2008
    Messages:
    17
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    England
    I always drop hints but sometimes I think they might be too obvious, i don't know.
    Anyway i try to give hints to things that then aren't directly true but are true in a way, so the reader is always confused, but in a good way where they keep reading, not confused that they give up.

    Therefore I see no problems with leaving hints as long as they are fed in naturally and don't make it too obvious.
     
  11. InkDancer
    Offline

    InkDancer Senior Member

    Joined:
    Jun 10, 2008
    Messages:
    116
    Likes Received:
    1
    Location:
    Sayville, NY
    That's where having lots of different people reading for you can help. You can ask them when they figured out a big plot twist, and that will let you know whether your hints were too much or not enough.
     

Share This Page