With a twist...

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Mark.W.Carson
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With a twist...

Post by Mark.W.Carson » March 3rd, 2012, 3:01 pm

So...

I am going to assume that the collective "You" have read more books than I have read myself. What are your thoughts on twists in your story, or even potential twists, where the reader is kept on their toes to wonder?

In my current MS, I am putting out hints, and clues, some very subtle, and some more overt to keep the reader guessing as to what is truly happening. They may only get some of them after perhaps a second read through, but, in my opinion, a good book can stand multiple reads, and each time something new ought to be revealed or understood.

However, what sort of pitfalls have you found in stories that have attempted this? Do you feel let down when it ultimately does not go the way you had hoped or expected, or does it excite you more to find out that the story had those suspenseful bits to keep you guessing?

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Quill
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Re: With a twist...

Post by Quill » March 3rd, 2012, 4:01 pm

If clues are too subtle the reader will likely get angry. Few readers will read a book more than once, especially if it was not satisfying the first time. Best to learn the conventions of one's genre in order to find the right level of disclosure in a story. You may not get that second chance. But you don't want to be too obvious either.

Mark.W.Carson
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Re: With a twist...

Post by Mark.W.Carson » March 3rd, 2012, 4:51 pm

Well, that is the trick, isn't it?

I plan on there being multiple things the reader can think is going on, but it is not a mystery really, and there is no REASON they must be in suspense at every turn. The clues are not a requirement, but more like a dipping sauce for added flavor.

Perhaps clue was the wrong word. They are more elements of foreshadowing that can be interpreted in different ways. Many of the ways they can be interpreted can be suggestive of certain ends. Looking back on them, some of them were merely what they appeared to be and others were more.

I agree that lying to a reader and omitting things or springing things on them at the last moment is always bad. This is more like something I'd read a while back. "If you mention that there's a gun hanging from the wall, it had better be fired by the third act or we don't care that it's hanging there"

Now, if you line up clues, or foreshadowing like that, and lead up to the possibility of different things, I wonder if it will keep people guessing.

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polymath
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Re: With a twist...

Post by polymath » March 3rd, 2012, 5:24 pm

My understanding, a twist is a major dramatic turn, a major pivot, or in narrative theory terminology, an unexpected, abrupt, profound revelation or reversal, or as the ancients label them, respectively, anagnorisis and peripetia. A simple plot has neither, and a complex plot has one or both. Regardless of simple or complex plot, that a final outcome remain in doubt until a bitter end. The challenge is giving readers enough information to understand the action but not telegraph an ending, so that a final outcome remains in doubt throughout a drama.
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Re: With a twist...

Post by Moni12 » March 3rd, 2012, 7:09 pm

One thing I've enjoyed about books is the subtlety of the clues. Sometimes I can pick them out and other times I can't. It adds to the mystery of the story. I don't want to know what happens in the end. Usually that means it's because the story has been done many times before. Of course, sometimes I guess the end and am right. If it's still an original ending that makes me excited.

What I do like about the times when I do miss clues is looking back on the story and then seeing them. I kick myself a bit, but again, it makes me excited to see that the whole time the author was hinting at something big.

Neil Gaiman has a pretty big twist in American Gods. I won't say what, but I didn't see it coming. However, it only added to the book for me. Throughout I didn't have a clue it was going to happen. I Gaiman did put hints here and there (now that I really think about it), but they were subtle. I've read it again and enjoyed it just as much as I did the first time.

I think with most readers you have to find a balance of obvious clues and subtle ones, but I'd make more subtle than obvious. They're more fun.

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Re: With a twist...

Post by Mark.W.Carson » March 3rd, 2012, 7:25 pm

Thanks. I did not mean a twist as in a "Plot Twist" but rather a change of how things are done sometimes. There are definite things in my MS that will give a reader a "Huh?" Moment, but then it will make more sense as the story unravels. Some books, even MANY books are not worth a second read. I am hoping to write something that makes people like my wife look back at the book case and go:

"You know, I haven't read XYZ in a few years." and then she is curled up on the couch reading the book until I come in whining about being left alone.

I want my books to have that effect. If I strive for simply "Is this publishable" then I am setting my expectations too low. I may never achieve the level that I am hoping for, but if I set my sights there, then even if I fall short I still have something I can be relatively proud of.

I know this is not a book, but if anybody has ever played "Baldur's Gate" for PC they may understand what I mean. In the beginning of the game (and it is an oooold game), there are people spouting in rhythm about a prophecy like they are ancient clerics simply singing, but it turns out you were the one to fulfill that prophecy.

In my book, I am playing it out so that you are kept wondering which of these possibilities is going on, and then when more evidence is presented, it may make you lean on anther, and another until you are simply turning pages to find out.

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