Thursday, July 29, 2010

Keeping Secrets

One of my biggest pet peeves when reading novels is when the narrator doesn't reveal everything they know, espcially if it's written in first person. Don't get me wrong, I love twists and having to guess endings, but when a crucial piece of information is withheld from the reader, then that's one of the main things that makes it hard to continue reading.

I have read several where the character turns out to be something else (one wasn't even human), but they were portrayed as ignorant for half the story. So, how should one choose what to divulge? I like to create detailed character sheets about my character and decide what the reader needs to know. If the lifestyle of the character is important, then that character should at least mention it... it's not a twist if the reader comes to not trust the character.

So, how do you choose what information to reveal in your story? What is your biggest annoyance with novels? What makes you stop reading?

4 comments:

Deb Salisbury said...

I try to drop (and hide in plain view, when necessary ;) all the facts the reader needs to solve the puzzle. I consider it part of my contract with the reader.

I remember an otherwise-brilliant book where the adult first-person MC didn't notice that it was neither male nor female until halfway through the novel. If it *hadn't* been so well written, I'd have given up on it right there. I mean, how can you not notice your plumbing?!?!?

Nicole MacDonald said...

As long as it's done well and for a good reason I don't mind. Otherwise yes quite annoying

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Catherine A. Winn said...

I feel like you feel, when the author holds back things like that, the reader becomes angry at being cheated. I think in the end it would wind up hurting sales on the next book. I usually have no interest in reading the next one and I'm sure there are others reacting the same way. Have a great week!

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