"So, we have to remember that 1) readers aren't stupid, but 2) they also don't know everything we know".
Maybegenuis, well said.
I really really appreciate people's responses. This was really interesting to me to think about and see what other people had to say.
What's interesting to me is how people define tease. People definitely took meaning from this that I hadn't intended, which is a good lesson for me!
I think Cheekychooks word "temptress" works really well, too, Nathan. But I guess I thought of the word "tease" because it has a playful element to it, that works for me. There's a dance that goes on between a good writer and a reader, where the writer holds the answers just out of reach, feeding alittle bit, and then dancing away again. But I guess temptress or temptor works just as well.
Part of what I meant to say - but didn't - is the author HAS to deliver. If they don't ultimately deliver, the reader feels betrayed. The T.V. show LOST is a good example of that. Many people felt set up and let down because all the "teases" hadn't come together in a well-crafted ending. LIke Fenris said, the recipe has to use all the ingredients, or people feel mislead and cheated.
And I agree with you, Nathan, that the author can't play games with the reader. It needs to be embedded in the story - not just a mechanism to keep people reading - because they can tell.
But the author can hold out for a long time, as long as little mysteries are solved in the meantime. Too much "not knowing" and the reader starts to feel frustrated. But you can hold out on the big ones for a very long time - J.K. Rowling brought up information that wasn't resolved until the last chapter of the last book. And that's good storytelling.
Chantelle - imho, I think a good writer IS alittle bit evil. But evil in a good way.