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  1. The Piper

    The Piper Senior Member

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    Tricking the reader

    Discussion in 'Setting Development' started by The Piper, Jan 30, 2019.

    Hi everyone,

    Hopefully this is in the right section. Essentially, my question is this: is it okay to "trick" the reader into thinking the story is taking place somewhere, and then shift focus to where it's actually taking place? To explain it a little better, think starting with describing the action in a film, then panning out to reveal we're actually in the cinema, following someone who's watching the film.

    The particular example I'm worried about is this (mild gore follows):



    Blood pooled over the floorboards, seeping between them in rivers of red, staining the splintered wood. A mobile phone had fallen to the floor and skidded over the bloody surface, leaving a smeared trail of crimson from the dead woman's hand all the way to the wall. The hand had been cut right off, severed at the wrist. Palm upward, the fingers were curled into stiff, red-raw talons. Her nails were chipped from a desperate attempt to fight her attacker.

    Doctor Matthew Kramer pressed a button on the slim remote in his hand and the picture changed. The next slide showed a panned-out view of the scene; now, the woman's entire body was visible. She had been stripped naked. A deep gash across her throat tilted her head back.

    Her other hand had been removed too.

    Kramer turned to the lecture hall, scanned the room. A dozen pairs of eyes were fixed on the screen, on the horrific image projected there. The rest, he noted, were doing their best to look somewhere else. Anywhere else.

    'So why do we think he took her hands?' Kramer said, gesturing toward the screen.



    The problem I'm having is that I don't know if the transition is carried out well enough here. I feel like a lecture theatre isn't particularly interesting, setting-wise, so I wanted to start with the scene of what's being discussed and pan out to the lecturer. As readers, what do you think the effect is here? Does it feel like a cheap trick? Is it badly written? Is the transition too jarring?

    Am I worrying about nothing?

    Thank you for your help!!

    Piper
     
  2. EBohio

    EBohio Banned

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    It's not a trick, it's done in film all the time. And how is it a trick when the second paragraph starts with the guy using a remote to change a slide?
    I think you mean you want the reader to feel as if the scene is happening now and then after the very end of the scene it is discovered they were just looking at a screen. Again, happens all the time in film. Also happens when we find out the character was just dreaming, it wasn't real.

    So, the only problem I see is that you need to decide how to do it. Just write out what they are seeing on the screen but don't reveal that they were looking at a screen until the end. Maybe the scene ends with a SCREAM from some freaked out student and then show the reader that they (the characters) were only in a class looking at a screen.

    It can be done. Good luck!
     
  3. Lew

    Lew Contributor Contributor

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    I actually like that scene! Jarring transitions catch the reader's attention. My wife wrote her first book, a fantasy, and opening chapter, first person POV, man or woman, unclear, running through the winter snows at night, thinking, checking something out. Then at the end of the chapter the POV puts paws on the ground and howls in answer to a distant wolf.
     
  4. BayView

    BayView Huh. Interesting. Contributor

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    I like your example. I think if you did it too often it might start to feel cheap and/or lessen the reader's sense of immersion (b/c why should I get emotionally invested in something that might not be really happening anyway) but it worked for me in your example.
     
  5. The Piper

    The Piper Senior Member

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    Thanks everyone, really helpful. I think I saw it as more of a potential issue than it seems to be, good to know that this particular example appears to work okay! Wasn't planning on doing this too much, just wanted to see if it could work. Thanks again.
     
    BayView likes this.
  6. Maggie May

    Maggie May Active Member

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    I like it, I would keep reading.
     
  7. Hammer

    Hammer Senior Member

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    Hi @The Piper

    When I read the question I thought ooh, no, no, no... akin to a "wake up opening" where the reader is buying into the story only to be told that it was a dream or something and then has to buy into another story altogether - a great way to piss your readers off!

    In your story we are not being hoodwinked - the body is just as dead, just as real, just as dead so we are buying into the moment and you are just twisting the POV slightly - I like it.
     

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