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Old 2nd April 2012, 11:56 PM   #16 (permalink)
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Re: When to do the reveal

I read some feedback from John Jarrold recently, and his take on it was don't be mysterious for the sake of it. If you're withholding something that's going to make it hard for the reader to understand what's going on you run the risk of losing them. So, yes, if you want a mystery, hold off. But leave enough in the story that the reader can follow it. If it's going to affect the ease of reading of the story not to tell when it feels like the right time, then tell them! I have no problem with drip drip, in fact I really can't be bothered with stories that scratch their chin sagely and know more than I do.
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Old 3rd April 2012, 09:47 AM   #17 (permalink)
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Re: When to do the reveal

Two words - Gene Wolfe.

'Nuff said.
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Old 3rd April 2012, 10:48 AM   #18 (permalink)
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Re: When to do the reveal

Well, I've always thought that the position of the killer's identity reveal was largely genre based. If it's early on, it's a thriller/ horror. If it's at the end, it's a whodunnit. If its constant, it's unreadable. Simplistic, I know, but it depends on what you want your book to be.
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Old 3rd April 2012, 11:49 AM   #19 (permalink)
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Re: When to do the reveal

I've never been one for murder mysteries (I cheat and skip through the book). I do like shocks though, finding the sudden reveal of a plot twist that hadn't even been hinted at as far more satisfying. I've tried to work this into my current tale.
Is there anyway that you could partly reveal a selection of potential murderers through shock twists, thereby keeping the reader on their proverbial "toes"?
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Old 3rd April 2012, 12:12 PM   #20 (permalink)
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Re: When to do the reveal

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Thanks guys. You know, I reckon I could write a few thousand words from the killer's PoV without revealing they were the murderer yet anyway. So. Write it and see, I suppose!
If it's not a key part of the book that the murderer's identity is kept secret, to the extent that it's revealed well before the end, you still need to take care when building up to the reveal. The reader may not want to feel that they're being teased or lied** to, particularly if this isn't the general way the book is written.



** - If the murderer has the sort of mind that thinks murder is just something that they do without thinking much about it, having one or two longish scenes where it never crosses their mind might work; otherwise it will look like some sort of prank on your part, and getting the reader to think about the author is probably not what you want.
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Old 3rd April 2012, 11:13 PM   #21 (permalink)
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Re: When to do the reveal

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Originally Posted by Luiglin View Post
I've never been one for murder mysteries (I cheat and skip through the book). I do like shocks though, finding the sudden reveal of a plot twist that hadn't even been hinted at as far more satisfying. I've tried to work this into my current tale.

A sudden plot twist that hasn't been hinted at is incredibly poor writing, and in danger of delving into deus ex machina territory.

A good twist has to be foreshadowed. The key is to foreshadow it in such a way that the reader doesn't realise it's foreshadowing until after the reveal.
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Old 3rd April 2012, 11:50 PM   #22 (permalink)
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Re: When to do the reveal

I agree with Gumboot: one has to admire writers who put everything in full view and yet you only notice how it all fits together when the writer wants you to realise it.

It's easy, at first, for you, the reader, to think you've been stupid not to see what was happening, but when you find out that nearly everyone else has also missed the relevance of the clues, you have to accept that you've been in the hands of an author who really knows what they're doing.
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Old 3rd April 2012, 11:55 PM   #23 (permalink)
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Re: When to do the reveal

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I agree with Gumboot: one has to admire writers who put everything in full view and yet you only notice how it all fits together when the writer wants you to realise it.

It's easy, at first, for you, the reader, to think you've been stupid not to see what was happening, but when you find out that nearly everyone else has also missed the relevance of the clues, you have to accept that you've been in the hands of an author who really knows what they're doing.
Well said - I agree.
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Old 4th April 2012, 12:56 AM   #24 (permalink)
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Re: When to do the reveal

Secrets are only secrets if the POV characters really don't know - or are really suprressing it IMO.

If it's easy for a reader to figure, then the characters look dumb and not worth reading.
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Old 4th April 2012, 01:20 AM   #25 (permalink)
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Re: When to do the reveal

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Secrets are only secrets if the POV characters really don't know - or are really suprressing it IMO.

If it's easy for a reader to figure, then the characters look dumb and not worth reading.

Hence why you have to be a good writer, who hides the clues in such a way that in retrospect you recognise them, but at the time they're not obvious.

Anyone can throw in a reveal that comes out of left field. There's zero cleverness in that, and frankly as a reader or audience member it's the sort of thing I despise. Too many "twist films" do this, and it's condescending towards the audience.

"Hah, you didn't see this coming!"
"Of course I didn't you didn't foreshadow it, you tool!"

Foreshadowing is an artform in itself.
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Old 4th April 2012, 02:59 AM   #26 (permalink)
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Re: When to do the reveal

As a long time reader myself I have to disagree. As a kid reading lord of the rings Gandalfs fall in Moria came as a complete and utter shock. There was no subtle warning, it just happened and I loved it. It was the first shock twist that I ever read. Since then the books that I've enjoyed the most have had these sudden surprises. To me in some ways there's nothing worse than someone trying to be over clever dropping out bits of hints followed by a great reveal and nod backs at them all. It's half the reason why I don't read thrillers. In my eyes its a bit condescending. However I do realise that for many people enjoy these sort of books.
I write in the style I enjoy. If that makes me a poor writer then so be it. It's your opinion and your entitled to it. However, I was only attempting to provide an alternate point of view.
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Old 4th April 2012, 03:53 AM   #27 (permalink)
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Re: When to do the reveal

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As a long time reader myself I have to disagree. As a kid reading lord of the rings Gandalfs fall in Moria came as a complete and utter shock. There was no subtle warning, it just happened and I loved it.


That's actually a perfect example. From the first moment the subject of Moria is raised, Aragorn is stringently against entering, and it's made abundantly clear that if they went that way something awful was going to happen. In fact, Aragorn even specifies his warning is for Gandalf, and not anyone else. Leading up to the emergence of the Balrog there's increasing signposts that there's something evil and terrible in Moria, and that it's after them.

It was foreshadowed, but it still came as a surprise because you didn't want to recognise the foreshadowing for what it was.
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Old 4th April 2012, 04:33 AM   #28 (permalink)
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Re: When to do the reveal

If you intend to write from the killers pov then you'll have to reveal who he/she is early in your story.

But perhaps your big reveal can be something else other than uncovering murderer.
...Perhaps its another element or turn of events, both the killer and investigator are completely unprepared for.


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Old 4th April 2012, 05:49 AM   #29 (permalink)
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Re: When to do the reveal

I think the best way to get the foreshadowing in there is to write the book, do the reveal, then go back and modify the beginning of the book to suit, now that you know exactly what's going to happen and how.

Of course there is still the trick of not making it too obvious, which is very hard to learn and something I'm still trying to come to grasps with.
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Old 4th April 2012, 08:48 AM   #30 (permalink)
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Re: When to do the reveal

I understand what you are saying Gumboot and maybe my original post didn't fully explain what I intended. Maybe it was due to attempting a relatively lengthy reply on a mobile phone screen where I couldn't see all the text.

I still don't read that passage in LotR as you have. The shock of apparently losing a main character so early was above and beyond any mentions of dread. That was the point I was trying to get at. Having looked back at the work I'm writing I do offer similar "foreshadows" as you call them but attempt to keep them for the reader to decide on. Whether they are subtle or blatant as a sledgehammer I'm not sure at the moment, the persons I have reading for plot development/speed have not pointed them out as yet.

To return to the original post my intention was to the highlight the beauty of a shock in a story. I stand by that and whether that makes me a poor writer, then as I say, that is your opinion. However, I did find the original reply be a touch objectionable in how it was worded in labeling my suggestion as poor writing without first seeking clarification. It is not the best way to welcome a newcomer to a forum.
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