Tags:
  1. spklvr
    Offline

    spklvr Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Oct 29, 2010
    Messages:
    734
    Likes Received:
    36
    Location:
    Sarpsborg, Norway

    Tricking your readers?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by spklvr, Jun 16, 2011.

    It kind of bugs me because I’m pretty sure I saw a thread with this exact same name, but I can’t find it and I don’t remember what people thought of it.

    Well, basically, after looking through several of my stories where the first draft is finished, I suddenly realize I seem to really love tricking my readers (AKA me and my BFF). For example, in the story I have now started the second draft on, the King has just been murdered and the public is worried because even though there is a princess (who should be 15 years), no one has ever seen her, and is rumored to have been missing since childhood. Enter my MC, a 15-year-old girl who has been raised in an orphanage since she was a baby. I throw in so many hints that she could be the princess. Then at the end of the story, someone completely different is revealed to be the princess and she is revealed to be the daughter of two evil alchemists who were murdered (and the guy who killed them didn’t have the heart to kill a baby, so he secretly brought her to an orphanage).

    And I do stuff like this a lot. In another story, one of the main characters is portrayed as a kind and clumsy vampire who just want to protect the girl he is in love with, then at the end it’s revealed he was the evil vampire killing everybody. The vampire being evil I tried to foreshadow some (aha, he was the one who locked the door, that makes sense), but when it came to the princess thing, I tried to foreshadow that she was the princess, just to throw everyone off when the opposite was revealed. I’m just not sure this is a good thing… I don’t think I’ve even read a book where I felt the author totally “got me” with some of their tricks and plot twists, so I’m not sure I want to be tricked either. But if you start reading a book knowing you will be tricked, you’re probably not going to be tricked.

    Have you read books that purposely tricked you? Did you like it or was it annoying? Any other thoughts?
     
  2. SteamWolf
    Offline

    SteamWolf Senior Member

    Joined:
    May 29, 2011
    Messages:
    153
    Likes Received:
    2
    Location:
    Newcastle
    I love a good twist in a story. Only the obvious ones annoy me.
     
  3. dizzyspell
    Offline

    dizzyspell Active Member

    Joined:
    Oct 8, 2010
    Messages:
    421
    Likes Received:
    35
    Location:
    Wellington, New Zealand
    I like a twist, I don't like being tricked.

    I like not realising something until the end of a book and then thinking that I should have worked it out, but if something comes totally out of the blue with barely any or no foreshadowing, that annoys me.
     
  4. Ubrechor
    Offline

    Ubrechor Active Member

    Joined:
    Apr 17, 2011
    Messages:
    107
    Likes Received:
    10
    Location:
    Some Other Place
    ^^^^^ I feel exactly the same way as dizzy. A plot twist is all well and good, but it needs to be well thought out, rather than just gratuitous.
     
  5. cruciFICTION
    Offline

    cruciFICTION Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    May 18, 2011
    Messages:
    1,236
    Likes Received:
    49
    Location:
    Brisbane, Australia
    I'd probably read that princess one, find out someone else was the princess, and be like, "Thank Christ."

    I hate princess main characters. If the twist comes out of the blue but makes sense, good. Thank. GOD. I love things that make sense. CONTINUE!
     
  6. Mist Walker
    Offline

    Mist Walker Member

    Joined:
    Dec 7, 2009
    Messages:
    25
    Likes Received:
    1
    I like the idea simply because saying that the princess has never been seen makes the reader groan and expect the main character to be the princess. What I think would be better still is if the foreshadowing could go either way. It could be indicating she's the princess or the alchemists' daughter.

    So long as it's done well, as with most things, it's fine. Just make sure there are hints that can be picked up on in a reread.
     
  7. Jonp
    Offline

    Jonp Senior Member

    Joined:
    Apr 6, 2011
    Messages:
    114
    Likes Received:
    3
    It depends how you do it. I would hate it if your main character went around believing and telling people she was the princess, or if everyone else believed it without proof.
     
  8. WriterDude
    Offline

    WriterDude Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jun 6, 2011
    Messages:
    738
    Likes Received:
    37
    Location:
    Icy cold wastes of Hell. Aka Norway.
    I agree with this. A great twist will let you watch the movie differently the second time and see "obvious" hints towards the twist you didn't see the first time. Having a twist out of the blue is just dumb. The build-up to the twist is at least as important as the twist itself.
     
  9. SeverinR
    Offline

    SeverinR Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Feb 15, 2011
    Messages:
    477
    Likes Received:
    7
    Location:
    New Madison Ohio
    The best twist in a movie...
    6th sense, at the end when everything you thought was true is suddenly
    totally different, and makes you want to go back and check, not believing you could missed so much.
    When in the theater, the audience realizes it nearly the same time.

    Twist good, pathetic trick not good.
     
  10. Mallory
    Offline

    Mallory Mallegory. Contributor

    Joined:
    Jun 27, 2010
    Messages:
    4,274
    Likes Received:
    191
    Location:
    Tampa Bay
    Like CruciFICTIOn stated, I'm also glad the MC is not the princess. That's just irritating - not just because of the Sue-ish "Oh lah dee dah she's a sparkly princess!" aspect, but also because it's way too predictable.

    Good call to make her the evil alchemist's daughter instead.

    However, you don't want to be TOO out-of-the blue. For instance, the readers should know there were evil alchemists at some point. (But getting into the part about having a baby daughter is too obvious, so don't go there). Maybe the "princess" has grown up her whole life hating them for the string of horrors they left behind, and wants to devote her life to hunting down their accomplices, who are still spreading evil.
     
  11. ImaginaryRobot
    Offline

    ImaginaryRobot Member

    Joined:
    Jun 15, 2011
    Messages:
    20
    Likes Received:
    2
    I agree with what people have said about things being out of the blue. It's fine to put in lots of red herrings and then reveal something unexpected, but the reader should be able to look back and see that it all makes sense.

    Agatha Christie was great at this. She nudges readers in certain directions, all the while laying the logical groundwork for the final reveal.

    As a writer you are always manipulating the reader, but you still have to give them all of the important information, even if you obscure it.

    Otherwise all you're doing is Deus Ex Machina, which is fine if you're writing Greek Tragedy, but probably not great for anything else.
     
  12. Terry D
    Offline

    Terry D Active Member

    Joined:
    Jan 10, 2011
    Messages:
    200
    Likes Received:
    15
    Location:
    Southeast Iowa
    Having a big, pardigm busting twist in a story is a good thing. But, if you intentionally lie to your readers to set-up the twist they will resent the hell out of it. Readers need to be able to trust the author.
     
  13. JimFlagg
    Offline

    JimFlagg Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Apr 26, 2011
    Messages:
    375
    Likes Received:
    6
    I think it is ok to leave things out until you are ready to reveal. Dickens use to do this all of the time. I think it was his way of hooking the reader.

    If you are writing third person and give the reader misinformation then that is another thing entirely and would agree with Terry on this subject.
     
  14. garnerdavis
    Offline

    garnerdavis Member

    Joined:
    May 28, 2011
    Messages:
    26
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Georgia
    Perfect example. The clues were there, but the mind's normal pathways refused to acknowledge them. One of the great surprise endings of all time.
     
  15. Ubrechor
    Offline

    Ubrechor Active Member

    Joined:
    Apr 17, 2011
    Messages:
    107
    Likes Received:
    10
    Location:
    Some Other Place
    Seconded :D
     
  16. Cogito
    Offline

    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    May 19, 2007
    Messages:
    35,935
    Likes Received:
    2,043
    Location:
    Massachusetts, USA
    Know the difference between misdirection and downright deception.
     
  17. IfAnEchoDoesntAnswer
    Offline

    IfAnEchoDoesntAnswer Member

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2011
    Messages:
    98
    Likes Received:
    3
    Darn it, once again I posted without seeing that there was a "page 2", and my point had already been made. I really wish it was possible for me to just delete my post outright when that happened, to "bury the evidence..."

    I had the advantage of watching that movie without even being warned there was any sort of "twist". I didn't have a clue until several seconds before the MC figured it out. But once known, it was so bleedingly obvious I couldn't see how I had missed it. :D

    The trouble with an out-of-the-blue trick, on the other hand, is that being fooled by someone who's controlling all your senses is just a straight up lie.

    The reader can't perceive anything that the writer doesn't hint at -- the reader is completely dependent on the writer for all their information about the story. People don't like to be lied to. A good twist is wonderful. An unreliable narrator can be a lot of fun. But an out-of-the blue trick is just a breach of trust.
     
  18. SteamWolf
    Offline

    SteamWolf Senior Member

    Joined:
    May 29, 2011
    Messages:
    153
    Likes Received:
    2
    Location:
    Newcastle
    One of my favorites is a book by Colin Greenland called 'Take Back Plenty'. I hesitate to mention the deception/twist as it will ruin it for a new reader, but it was one of few books that right at the end made me go 'woah. Didn't see that coming!'.
     
  19. psychotick
    Offline

    psychotick Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Feb 10, 2011
    Messages:
    1,374
    Likes Received:
    313
    Location:
    Rotorua, New Zealand
    Hi,

    I agree with SeverinR, the twist in the sixth sense was awesome and I did not see it coming, but after, when you go back and revisit parts of the film, the clues were all there. It was all about putting the clues out there but letting the viewer / reader misunderstand them. So when Bruce Willis is at the restaurant with his wife and they aren't talking, its not because there's an emotional distance between them and she's ignoring him after all.

    You just have to be clever about it. Don't lie to your reader. They may not forgive you.

    So for your MC I'd simply let lots of people believe she's the princess and say it a lot, but don't have anyone confirm it and also leave a hint that maybe there was another girl the same age in the orphanage or something like that.

    Cheers.
     
  20. jwatson
    Offline

    jwatson Active Member

    Joined:
    Jul 16, 2009
    Messages:
    559
    Likes Received:
    11
    Location:
    canada
    I think flattering the reader's intelligence is huge for a successful piece. Twists are good, great even. You read a book, it's well written, and there's a nice twist at the end. It would stick in your head, you'd refer it to your friends saying "it has the best ending!"

    But I think twists can be over done. When you cross that imaginary line, it's going to feel more like some kind of game rather than reading. Also, if you have a lot of twists, I think that may affect how rhetorical readers find your story. It's hard to believe what the heck the author's showing me if it may not even be true half the time! Anyone else see my point? Kind of like writing a book in passive voice lol.
     

Share This Page