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  1. Rumwriter

    Rumwriter Active Member

    May 11, 2011
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    How to write what needs to be inferred through visuals

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Rumwriter, Dec 17, 2011.

    So, this isn't something that I'm necessarily using right now, but it was a thought I had that I wanted to get ideas about in case I decide to use it at some point:

    Let's say you're watching a fantasy movie and the hero is with a companion on a journey. Then in a later scene, you see this companion talking with the enemy, so this adds conflict and drama, and creates some dramatic irony. Then later on, we find out that the character we saw with the enemy was in fact a twin of the companion.

    But how would you write the scene where we see the twin with the enemy? Say the companion's name is Bruce, would you just refer to the twin as Bruce, even though it isn't, since the point of that scene is to create this tension in the reader's mind? Or would doing so compromise the reliability of the narrator?

    My point is, when we have actual visuals presented to us, the author (or director or whatever) is able to use our intuition against us. But when we write, I feel like we don't have that opportunity (well, not in this particular instance at least). Or do we? What do you think.
  2. Blue Night

    Blue Night Active Member

    Aug 13, 2011
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    Trying to dupe a reader is unethical. You don’t create two Bruce’s so the reader can follow the wrong one. That’s a one way ticket to the blacklist. So scratch that notion out.

    But yes, you can have a reader completely believe Bruce is consorting with the enemy. And yes, you can have the reader completely shocked to find out it was never Bruce.

    That’s why you have characters and scenarios.
  3. Kallithrix

    Kallithrix Banned

    Feb 25, 2011
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    Yay! I want Bruce to save the day and Vick to feel like a right plonker for not checking the veracity of the information given to him by the unswervingly inept Petra. Go Bruce!
  4. Purplesuits

    Purplesuits New Member

    Dec 13, 2011
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    If we're talking about differentiating Bruce's. One being an evil twin, but not to give away a twist go the Fight Club road. What you do is you make all these wonderful little subtle hints, like maybe the other Bruce picks his nose like a jerk. Okay, that wasn't very descriptive, but with such twists a reader kind of likes to feel stupid. That the whole time the answer was staring them in the face how to differentiate the two but they didn't figure it out at all. Funnily enough it gives re-read quality, cause people always want to go back and read, or watch something over again after moments like those. It gives the book renewed flavor. But yeah, fun little hints worked into each charecters psyche. Don't make it to obvious though, like that the evil one has a tendency to flip out.
    Unless this is just some random passer by that looks a hell of a lot like Bruce and is just chatting it up with a baddie. Then just insinuate questioning as to why Bruce would be doing such a thing.
  5. mammamaia

    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

    Nov 21, 2006
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    Coquille, Oregon
    sorry, but that's sheer nonsense... misleading the reader with red herrings and other such trickery is what mystery writers have been doing since mysteries were 'born'... and what 'blacklist' are you referring to?
  6. joanna

    joanna Active Member

    May 25, 2010
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    mammamaia is correct that trickery is acceptable in writing. Using misdirection in your novel can be akin to a magician making us look here when the trick is happening over there, and the overall effect is that we're dazzled.

    But Blue Night also has a point about duping the reader. You can misdirect, but calling someone Bruce who isn't Bruce is cheating. One thing that the reader must rely on is an honest author. The characters can be confused or make up lies, and even a first-person narrator can misinterpret events, but the author must describe to the reader what actually happened.

    To deal with this in your situation, you might describe a scene where a man with chocolate hair, a twitching eyebrow and ears like giant half-moons protruding from the sides of his head interacts with an enemy. You don't name this man Bruce, but you describe him the same way you earlier described Bruce. For example.

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