1. hainguyen

    hainguyen New Member

    Nov 10, 2021
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    Use of Cryptograms

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by hainguyen, Dec 27, 2021.

    How should I approach using codes in the writing? If I wanted to use an encrypted text, which can be solved by a Caesar Cipher, for instance, what are the ways to inform the readers to use this method?

    Footnote, underneath the cryptogram, characters mentioning it within the story itself,... How would you do it?
  2. MartinM

    MartinM Active Member

    Sep 1, 2020
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    Hong Kong

    Great question and I’ve no real idea. From fictional spy stories I’ve read it’s a plot device you are walked through as a reader and don’t actually solve. Similar to factual stories the author leads you through the process.

    From a story point of view, if you gave the reader some coded text DFGHJKLUYTRE without any footnotes. And the reader breaks the code, what does his reward achieve? Tells you the killer or the motive for an action? How does this information impact above someone who didn’t solve the puzzle? Can the story proceed in an entertaining way for both those that have and have not solved the cipher?

    This I think is pretty hard to pull off, but would be amazingly entertaining...

    Without doing an info dump, having characters talk about a Caesar Cipher rather than explain what one is I like. You are giving the reader a clue for them to research externally. A Sherlock Holmes story did the same using match stick men written in chalk. A reader is bright enough to use Google.

    I do love the idea of solving something externally that unfolds the story told.

    I’d suggest taking a look at the Unauthorized Biography of MI5 and The GCHQ Puzzle Book.

    hainguyen likes this.

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