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Withholding Information


Superpride

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2 hours ago, mogwhy said:

foreshadowing and/or misdirection could work. give you a giggle and keep the readers guessing. the best example i've read so far is Graeme's "Leopard Skin Cover"  he had readers guessing for 15 chapters!

 

Thank you for those two suggestions!  I did not consider foreshadowing as a solution to my problem, but I can definitely see myself utilizing it in my stories.  And I have used misdirection before, but I did not have a name for it until you mentioned it of course.  And I do not think I have the ability to withhold information from my readers for fifteen chapters.  That's both cruel to my readers and especially to me.  Haha!  But if it works for that author and the readers, then that's good.

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1 hour ago, BHopper2 said:

In my humble opinion, there is a difference in holding back info in order to reveal it later on, and totally withholding information. One makes the story move at a pace you control, and the other is just being a dick. Again that is my opinion. Holding info back can be as easy as this:

Example:

You know the full details of a car the character is buying. The seller of the car, doesn't know it's bumblebee in disguise. So, write the seller ignorant of what the car truely is, but talks up what they know. Later on you reveal it's bumblebee, and he's undercover to follow megatron.

 

Thank you for the very creative example where you explain how the character also does not know the information that is being withheld from the readers which, in my opinion, adds to the suspense.  And that extra plot twist at the end!  Haha!

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42 minutes ago, Superpride said:

 

Thank you for those two suggestions!  I did not consider foreshadowing as a solution to my problem, but I can definitely see myself utilizing it in my stories.  And I have used misdirection before, but I did not have a name for it until you mentioned it of course.  And I do not think I have the ability to withhold information from my readers for fifteen chapters.  That's both cruel to my readers and especially to me.  Haha!  But if it works for that author and the readers, then that's good.

 

Superpride, you should read it.:read: he did a lot of misdirection! :yes:

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2 hours ago, BHopper2 said:

Example:

You know the full details of a car the character is buying. The seller of the car, doesn't know it's bumblebee in disguise. So, write the seller ignorant of what the car truely is, but talks up what they know. Later on you reveal it's bumblebee, and he's undercover to follow megatron.

4

That story sounds so cool!  I hope it has lots of Micheal Bay style explosions! ;)

 

I use it for limited times as a hook.  Describing actions that are going on but not explaining who is doing them right away.  the "what the hell is going on?" is a great method to hook a reader, if you don't overuse it or abuse it. :)

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15 hours ago, BHopper2 said:

In my humble opinion, there is a difference in holding back info in order to reveal it later on, and totally withholding information. One makes the story move at a pace you control, and the other is just being a dick.

I want to add something here, after thinking my thoughts trough a bit more. Relevancy. Is the information relevant to the story? If the answer is no, then you need not mention it. There are things happening behind the scenes in both of my worlds, that most likely won't see the light of day in print. Is that withholding information that the Reader needs in order to understand the world of the story? No. It is, however, withholding information that would be interesting to just a subset of Reader, that would like to know more about your world.

 

So, in my opinion, I can sum up my points like this:

Holding Back, and Revealing later = Good

Withholding because of Relevancy = Good

Withholding because you can as an Author, but it's something that the Reader should know, and not guess or question about = Dick move on the part of the Author

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13 hours ago, Myr said:

That story sounds so cool!  I hope it has lots of Micheal Bay style explosions! ;)

I may have been watching a certain series of movies when I wrote that first post.... *coughs*

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I think another reason why an writer would want to withhold information and not reveal it later in the story is because they want the readers to form their own conclusions and facts about why this is happening or why this is significant.  For example, I am current reading a manga about female warriors battling against beings from another dimension by being grafted with special tissues that grant them superhuman abilities.  The author does not really explain why only women can be warriors or why only a small percentage of the female population can fight.  However, readers of the manga have developed their own conclusions in forums, like how only women can nurture the tissues into maturity similar to how only women can bear children and, this is my conclusion, how these special tissues are only compatible with a small percentage of women because of genetics similar to organ transplants or blood transfusions.  I do not know if that was the author's intent, but it definitely caused his readers to form communities to discuss the manga and have his readers be more engaged overall.  What are your thoughts and opinions on this?

Edited by Superpride
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Withholding information to get the readers to form their own ideas works well for me as a reader. Good examples are Morningstar by @Headstall and the King's Mate series by  @aditus  and of course Leopard Skin Cover by @Graeme

I'm sure there are plenty of other examples. Because we have the chance to comment and discuss our theories in the chapter comment sections and in a discussion topic, withholding info is much less frustrating in online stories. 

Edited by Timothy M.
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1 hour ago, Timothy M. said:

I'm sure there are plenty of other examples. Because we have the chance to comment and discuss our theories in the story and a discussion topic, withholding info is much less frustrating in online stories.

Yeah.... I totally forgot about online posting... I was thinking along the lines of a completed work, in the form of published material, with readers not able to do stuff like forums, and the like.

 

EDIT: It's funny... we post stories online, on this site, and I totally forget about Online posting when talking about Withholding information. Ugh... I can be such a dummy at times. LOL.

Edited by BHopper2
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foreshadowing and/or misdirection could work. give you a giggle and keep the readers guessing. the best example i've read so far is Graeme's "Leopard Skin Cover"  he had readers guessing for 15 chapters!

 

 

@mogwhy

I totally agree.

 

Foreshadowing is like 'edging' your readers. Sometimes you leave something so subtle forward in the story that it's like a feather tickle. Other times you do a full on stroke as you get closer to the 'big event'. Foreshocks.

 

I try to do that in my stories. I like to build you up so that when the event happens you are somewhat 'expecting' it but it's reality is so powerful that it seems to hit you more strongly than if I just drop it on you out of nowhere.

 

I am not a fan of not explaining things in a story and 'leaving it to your imagination', though. That is just frustrating like cuckolding the poor reader and ruining things.

 

I think the use of a motif, a recurring theme that repeats at intervals through the story, is a good way to create a 'haunting fore-echo' of things to come.

Edited by MrM
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4 minutes ago, MrM said:

Foreshadowing is like 'edging' your readers. Sometimes you leave something so subtle forward in the story that it's like a feather tickle. Other times you do a full on stroke as you get closer to the 'big event'. Foreshocks.

:rofl::gikkle: edging... LOL. I love your word usage. It makes sense, in serial posting, it almost like having sex with the reader.

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2 hours ago, MrM said:

Foreshadowing is like 'edging' your readers. Sometimes you leave something so subtle forward in the story that it's like a feather tickle. Other times you do a full on stroke as you get closer to the 'big event'. Foreshocks.

 

But I hate it when the author points out those hints: 'Little did he know that xx would lead to xx...'  :angry: 

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56 minutes ago, Timothy M. said:

 

But I hate it when the author points out those hints: 'Little did he know that xx would lead to xx...'  :angry: 

 

That's not forshadowing. That's telegraphing the punch! Hhehehe! :P

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How about this scenario which I'm currently writing. One group of people know more or less what will happen next, they will make it to a location and they know the next step, not in detail, but they know. Another group of people have the information which they have discovered and which will lead them to the same location, only this second group are expecting something different and will be surprised by what happens next. So the reader has more information than half the people meeting up at this location, only the reader expects that the second group will discover what he or she already knows and what the first group knows. Except what actually comes to pass is outside of what the reader and the first group knows because it's a result of the second group being there - but that will be revealed later. Did you follow that? It's kind of convoluted as plots go.

 

In essence it's giving the reader what he or she thinks is the whole picture, the reader has all the info, more than some of the characters in the story, but actually they don't, which is because what happens next will only be revealed later, and I hope the reader might think - I never saw that!

 

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20 hours ago, Timothy M. said:

 

But I hate it when the author points out those hints: 'Little did he know that xx would lead to xx...'  :angry: 

Little did Tim know that this is a pet peeve of many a reader!

Don't treat us like idiots!

 

16 hours ago, Graeme said:

if there's a 'shock plot twist', it needs to be believable or the reader will be jarred out of the story. Some plot twists don't need to be foreshadowed because the twist is simply because readers (and/or characters) made incorrect assumptions and the plot twist is just revealing those incorrect assumptions.

Yes, this makes a lot of sense :)

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  • 2 weeks later...
On 10/4/2017 at 9:50 PM, Superpride said:

The main problem I have with this method is I find the information that I am withholding so interesting that a part of me just wants to reveal it early in the story, but another part knows that the suspense will be ruined and the motivation for people to keep reading the story will be gone.  I hope that makes sense.  So, is there a solution to this problem and do you believe withholding information is a good or bad thing are my two other questions?

 

I'm all pro withholding information. It just keeps things interesting. And I also understand the urge to reveal something. The solution I found so far is a bit twisted, but it works for me: I concoct a beautiful red herring and I throw it into the story. This usually causes quite a lot of pleasant surprise and laughter among readers when they find out everything was completely upside down. I have applied it with success so far, but, of course, everyone has different ways of dealing with the thirst of revealing everything too early.

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For me, I create a massive amount of "lore" as I write chapter after chapter. I actually spend more time in creating the details and the background before I make a move. Everything need to make sense first before I started giving out info to my intended audience. That way, I could give out bits and pieces of information all over the place that would keep readers wondering about it. To them, they were bits of unrelated dust clouds. But to you, it was a big a clear picture.

 

This is also affirms myself as a control freak. :lol:

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Withholding information also depends on the story. As a reader you want to discover things as your MC does. Knowing too much too soon kills the suspense. Whether it is two lovers who are learning about each other, a crime, the thrill of an amusement park ride, or the destructive force of nature, you want to keep your reader's interest. Half the fun in reading any story is getting from the beginning to the end, and then there is all the action in between. 

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21 hours ago, comicfan said:

Withholding information also depends on the story. As a reader you want to discover things as your MC does. Knowing too much too soon kills the suspense. Whether it is two lovers who are learning about each other, a crime, the thrill of an amusement park ride, or the destructive force of nature, you want to keep your reader's interest. Half the fun in reading any story is getting from the beginning to the end, and then there is all the action in between. 

True, but there are also times when it can be okay for the readers to know more than the main characters, if the suspense being generated is wondering when the main characters will learn the truth, and what will they do at that time.

 

Of course, that's also furious rationalisation after the fact, since I had this problem in my Leopards series. I couldn't avoid telling the readers about something that was going on behind the scenes, but then had to go to great lengths to avoid the main characters finding out. In that particular case, I think the anticipation by the readers helped the story along, based on the comments about missed opportunities for the characters to find out the truth...

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