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» Hatrack River Writers Workshop » Forums » Open Discussions About Writing » Plots - the easy way out

   
Author Topic: Plots - the easy way out
Three Minute Egg
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I really hate novels where you read all the way through trying to figure out what the heck is going on, only to have the author reveal the homicidal twin brother, the out-of-wedlock child, or the wizard behind the mask pulling levers, in the last chapter. I feel cheated, like the author took the easy way out.

I'm trying to avoid this in my own book (36k words and counting). At what point should all the cards be on the table?


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Beth
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I don't think you should actually put all the cards on the table until the very end - but you should be hinting all along that you've got them, so that when you reveal your hand, the reader says ah! now I get it! instead of throwing the book across the room.
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Survivor
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You don't have to lay your cards on the table before the end. It's just that when you do lay your cards on the table, there better not be a joker in your hand.

Basically, the denouement should be something that reasonably connects to the rest of the story. But then, you already know this because you hate novels that violate this simple rule. So just take an honest look at your story and see if that's what you're doing.


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wbriggs
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I'm no mystery writer (or much of a reader). But my understanding is this: every clue is supposed to be out there before the author reveals the answer. But the author is allowed and expected to avoid showing the reader how to correctly interpret the clues, and in fact to suggest wrong interpretations.
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EricJamesStone
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quote:
I really hate novels where you read all the way through trying to figure out what the heck is going on, only to have the author reveal the homicidal twin brother, the out-of-wedlock child, or the wizard behind the mask pulling levers, in the last chapter. I feel cheated, like the author took the easy way out.
I'm trying to avoid this in my own book (36k words and counting).


It's very simple to avoid this problem. Just make sure a scene like this is in the second-to-last chapter:

quote:
"I'm afraid we've never been properly introduced." The Wizard let go of the levers and took off his mask.

Bud gasped. Looking at the wizard's face was like looking into a mirror, except not reversed the way images in a mirror are.

"Yes," said the Wizard, "I am your identical younger twin brother. But since our father signed the divorce papers in the few minutes between our births, I was born out of wedlock, which naturally inclined me to homicidal mania."



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djvdakota
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ROTFL!!!
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MaryRobinette
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Someday I hope I grow up to be as clever as EricJamesStone.
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jeduthun
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Isn't it amazing that novels like that get published!
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Stephen Wolfe
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Yeah, like I was very dissapointed in Angels and Deamons, because after You find out who's behind the whole mystery, I felt like the author just gave up, that was a real deus ex machina. Or so I felt.
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Jeraliey
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Stephen King did one of those "I'm sick of writing this" things with his Dark Tower series, unfortunately. It was really REALLY sad.
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goatboy
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quote:
"I'm afraid we've never been properly introduced." The Wizard let go of the levers and took off his mask.
Bud gasped. Looking at the wizard's face was like looking into a mirror, except not reversed the way images in a mirror are.

"Yes," said the Wizard, "I am your identical younger twin brother. But since our father signed the divorce papers in the few minutes between our births, I was born out of wedlock, which naturally inclined me to homicidal mania."


That is priceless.


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benskia
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Ah Jeraliey, that's a shame.
I've been enjoying those books up until now.
I just finished the Wolves of the Calla recently and although it was the weakest of the lot, I was still looking forwards to the other 2.

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Jeraliey
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It's worth finishing, benskia. He ended it in exactly the way I wanted him to (the VERY end, not the crap that led up to it...the Artist was just a cop-out), and my opinion could be unique and hyper-critical. I'd be interested in hearing what you think about it.

[This message has been edited by Jeraliey (edited May 12, 2005).]


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