Wednesday, April 8, 2009

The Reveal

Sometimes I only see one way for a story to play out. Maybe I'm myopic or something, but often I've only got the one way to go. Occasionally, I see more than one. Then, annoyingly enough, I have to choose. Blast it all. Personally, I like it when the characters grab my hand and drag me down a hallway, insisting that this is the only way to the end. Maybe I'm just lazy. Whatever.

So, today I faced the two options predicament. In my current WIP, one of the characters has a secret and the others are focused on finding out that secret -- they just don't know that it's their friend's secret they're trying to unravel. Now, the trouble comes in. How soon do I let the reader in on whose secret the other three are trying to figure out? I'd originally thought that the only way was a big reveal -- the reader finds out when the characters do. But, today, I noticed the potential for another option: the audience finds out before the other characters. That option does have the joy of dramatic ironies. But, I'm uncertain.
Both options seem to have their benefits. I am conflicted.

Every reveal is a chance for suspense and climax. But, is one method superior to another?


  1. I can't answer your question very well. It all depends on the story in my opinion. I don't think one method is superior to the other.

    Try both and see which works better! That's what beta readers are for. ;)

  2. If you're using the 3rd-person O POV, I suggest pouring on the dramatic irony.

    If you're using 1st-person or 3rd-person L, and your MC is not the one with the secret, I suggest letting the readers find out the secret with the characters.

  3. I go for letting the audience know. Keeping secrets from readers are often cheap tricks, and if the audience knowing ahead of time ruins the story, then it's not much of a secret.

  4. I would flesh both out on paper like a map, it's something that is only going to make sense to you the author. I think the readers are a smart bunch and hate to be talked down to. so, beware of that pitfall. Perhaps filling them in at a pivotal moment so there's still some big reveal factor in play.