“Felix”: Should I Give Away Plot Twists?

Vincent van Gogh [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

I got back to work on “Felix” this week. My approach now is to go back over the themes of the story and the characters to clarify what I want to say. I planned to talk about that in my blog this week, but I wasn’t sure how much I want to reveal.

In the past I have been reluctant to talk too openly about the plots of the stories and movies I work on. I worry that it will deter people from reading or watching if they know what happens. At the same time, I feel that if I don’t reveal something in my blog posts, people won’t read the blog posts.

I suspect my fear about revealing too much may be unfounded.

I think there are good reasons to unveil at least some of the secrets of the story.

Alfred Hitchcock on Suspense

If we go by what Alfred Hitchcock says, it may even be a good thing to do. He used to explain the nature of suspense with an example.

In a scene two men are sit and talk while a time bomb under the table ticks away. If you don’t tell the audience the bomb is there, they get a momentary shock when it goes off.

On the other hand, if you do show the bomb to the audience, they will anticipate the explosion throughout the scene. This will have a greater impact on the audience as they imagine the outcome.

“A Woman Alone in a Cruel World”

One of my stories does use this approach, although I didn’t do it intentionally. In “A Woman Alone in a Cruel World” (http://dynamiclethargyfilms.ca/stories/a-woman-alone-in-a-cruel-world/) most readers said they could see the “end coming a mile away”. I learned two things from that.

First, it is very hard to create a story with an unexpected end. Second, what inspired me to write the story was the anticipation of how the end would play out. Unless you had a pretty good idea what the climax of the story was, you couldn’t have that anticipation.

Hold Back Something?

I’ve read elsewhere that if you leave some questions unanswered at the end of a story, you will intrigue the reader and the story will stay in their mind longer. A reader would then explore the story in greater length and thus derive more pleasure from it.

In the “A Woman Alone in a Cruel World” I don’t describe the woman’s reaction or thoughts at the end of the story. I felt that would be redundant because by that time the reader would have already imagined what they would be. Since I don’t say explicitly what her reaction is, the reader can later reconsider their own interpretation. The after effect encourages them to contemplate how they would feel in a similar situation.

In “Felix” I think it may be appropriate to let on the basics of the story and its climax. The details of the story’s final revelation do leave room for speculation. I am more reluctant to be open about the inner lives of the characters. I think those inner lives add depth to the story and help the reader to understand how they react. But, as it is, even in the story I don’t want to reveal too much about their back stories.

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So what will I do? I’m not really that sure. I have some time now to think about it and there is no rush to make a decision.

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