1. Flying Geese

    Flying Geese Senior Member

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    Am I failing to accomplish my goal?

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by Flying Geese, Feb 6, 2017.

    So in my book, I do this thing where I try to set the reader up with a "theme thought" for a given scene. I planted lots of them throughout my book, but I think I may be having trouble in getting my point across, which would be deeply saddening for me, because this is by far my favorite thing to do in writing.

    To give a quick example:

    In the very beginning, the main character a 10 year old boy witnessing his mother cling to life after having just been duped out all the savings she made working in the brothels. He is now literally down to his last dollar.

    With what little strength she has, his mother begs him to leave her and worry about himself. The boy is at odds because he so badly wants to live a life unburdened, and he wonders what it might be like to live in the cleaner, holy city adjacent to the slums he calls home, but his mother is the only person he's ever had--and probably ever will have.

    The scene ends with the boy vowing to himself that he will stay at his mother's side and he swears that he wouldn't go to the holy city even if he were welcomed with open arms.

    When the next chapter begins, the main character has grown 7 years, is a resident of the holy city, and now wants to leave more than anything.

    My goal was to for the reader to immediately wonder,

    1) "Oh wow, he's there!"
    2) "How did get there if the gates are shut to people of his class?"
    3) "Why does he want to leave?"
    and 4) "What became of his mother?"

    To be fair, I get a lot of compliments on my plot, even from people I don't know, but I never hear anyone saying the things I want them to say. Never. Maybe I haven't had enough readers yet?

    I don't want to outright say things without hinting at them, but when I ask my readers questions about the book, it'd be great to hear about these little things I add into the book, because my whole story is carried by these themes.

    I thought I was doing it well, but if no one's talking about it specifically, then maybe I am not. Is there some expert way to hint at plot development without expressly stating it?
     
  2. Tenderiser

    Tenderiser Not a man or BayView

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    I'm still not sure what a "theme thought" is. This is just normal plotting and set-up, isn't it?

    I honestly think these questions are so obvious (as in, of course the reader will be asking them) that nobody thinks to mention it.
     
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  3. ChickenFreak

    ChickenFreak Contributor Contributor

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    Well, I wouldn't ask things like that, because I would assume that the book would slowly reveal them, and I don't want to spoil that experience by demanding a specific immediate explanation. Asking things like that feel like demanding that I be served dessert when I haven't even finished the appetizer. It would feel somehow rude.

    If you want them to ask for dessert, you may need to elicit it in a way that keeps them from feeling that they're being rude. For example, "Based on the plot so far, what things would you expect the rest of the book to reveal?"

    Edited to add: But then, IMO, they're used up as readers. When you carve out the mystery and anticipation and make them consciously acknowledge it, you've probably killed it. And you'll need new readers.
     
  4. Elven Candy

    Elven Candy Pay no attention to the foot in my mouth Contributor

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    I'm with Tenderiser on not understanding what a themed thought is. The questions you've mentioned are ones I might wonder except the first one. I'd more like think, "Oh, well this story took a turn. I wonder where it'll go?" That said, if I were reading the book, I wouldn't ask you those questions because I'd want them answered by the book. If I asked you, I'd be asking for a spoiler, and when I like a book, I don't want spoilers.

    Does that answer your question?
     
  5. ChickenFreak

    ChickenFreak Contributor Contributor

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    To put this another way: YOU don't want to destroy the fragile magic of your book by specifically explaining the themes, but you want your readers to destroy it by asking about them. You're taking their failure to ask as a sign that you're failing, but maybe it' a sign that they respect what you're building and they don't immediately think to climb out of it and carve it up.
     
  6. Flying Geese

    Flying Geese Senior Member

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    Well when you guys put it that way, of course I would rather prefer they find out on their own. No one wants to spoil their own story or ruin their own moments. I do hope ChickenFreak is right. I hope that it's just that they are aware of it, but don't immediately go to those questions when probed about the book.

    Also, thought theme is my poor wording for something else I couldn't think of. Sorry about that.
     
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  7. Trina Lynne

    Trina Lynne New Member

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    First things first, no one will ever give you the critique or praise you're looking for unless you ask. This is just my observation from being an editor for so many years. As far as, thought theme, I think I know what you mean. Long as your readers are asking questions throughout the story, you are accomplishing the goal as a writer. I mean, as long as that question isn't "What the heck is he talking about?" Just be sure to keep the confusion down to a minimum and you will be flying high (no pun intended on the name). :D
     

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