Both of my beta readers found the same problems in my first draft of a short horror story. It sounds like I was able to address at least one well enough of these in my second draft (introducing too many characters too quickly), but I hadn't executed some of the supernatural elements in a way that made sense in the first draft, and both betas said that was still a problem in the re-write. ___ The story starts with the protagonist John driving home, terrified by a new serial killer that he's just heard about in his area. When he gets to his house, he sees a stranger sneaking in to his next door neighbor's house. At first, he tries to write this off, but when his girlfriend calls the neighbor and doesn't get an answer, John goes next door to check in person. He finds the neighbor murdered, and then gets attacked himself before he can call for help. John manages to take the killer down, but discovers a child in the house and becomes convinced that she has been kidnapped by the killer. He comes to the conclusion that the girl shouldn't be found by the police, so he steals the dead neighbor's car and takes the girl to the house of a friend he knows to be out of town. Problem: throughout the story, I'd been peppering the story with some asides in italics that, at first, the reader is supposed to believe are John's own thoughts: As the story progresses, he starts acting making decisions based on information he could reasonably have learned on his own, but gradually veers into areas that he shouldn't know about: The story ends when the friend's son surprises John by bringing a few college friends to the house: When I wrote this, I originally thought that the twist of Spoiler the girl having supernatural mind-control powers would make it possible to accept her also having supernatural foreknowledge powers , but both of my beta readers said that the connection wasn't as clear as I'd hoped: it still didn't make sense that Spoiler John would know / be told the friend's safe combination, or the the girl would even know about him before he killed her previous puppet and ran into her physically. They didn't seem to mind my explanation out-of-story, but they didn't have any tips for making it more clear in-story without spelling it out directly (which none of us think would make sense). Does anybody here have an idea for a "clear+subtle" middle ground between "clear+clumsy" and "subtle+opaque" that we haven't thought of?