Monday, 13 April 2015

A to Z Challenge 2015 - Emotions & Reactions - K is for Knowing (writing discussion & fiction)

A to Z Challenge 2015 - Emotions & Reactions









This year for the A to Z Challenge, I'm investigating emotions and reactions and their use to in writing. So, I'll be talking about my first thoughts as a writer when I think about the words we use to describe emotions and my experience of their use in literature.

knowing
knowing: the state of being aware or informed.

We all like to be one up on other people from time to time, to be 'in the know', come on, admit it :). And that's the type of knowing I'm talking about today, the times when we can smile and raise our eye heavenward and say, 'My lips are sealed.' There's a satisfaction to knowing something someone else doesn't, a smugness if we push it too far, and we all like that little bit of personal power.

I suppose it's what we do with that knowing that is the important bit as far as a writer is concerned.

Secrets can make, or break a plot - one held too long and revealed as some kind of Deus ex Machina to sort out all the issues in a story and resolve the plot can just annoy readers. Yet, when handled carefully, allowing the reader to slowly come round to the same 'knowing' as one or more of the characters can be a way of pulling the reader into the story.

Harry Potter has some excellent 'secrets', the slowly laying down of the history of Voldemort, the links between the pure blood families, and, of course, the prophecy which drives so much of the story. Personally, I love the way that Neville comes through the story, 'the other one' that the prophecy could be referring to, a bit of a failure, but, in the end, hero, essential to Voldemort's destruction.

Dumbledore plays the role of the all-knowing master in these stories, sometimes to better effect than in others, but, his knowledge, in the end, makes him more human, I think, especially after he is dead. He is the perfect example of how knowing doesn't necessarily make us stronger, in fact, it can be a burden.

So, as long as it's not used to slap the reader in the face, 'knowing' can be fun to play with.

QUESTION: If you had to be taken into a fictional character's confidence in the midst of a book, who would it be and why?

~

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25 comments:

  1. Great post Sophie! You are right, whether any one wants to admit it or not. People find it thrilling to know something before anyone else. And that knowing slowly revealed in a novel is very compelling! Save something for the last chapter, okay. But don't keep it all hidden until the last! And don't make it so clear that I can figure it out by chapter 10 of a 20 chapter book,either.
    Visit me at: Life & Faith in Caneyhead
    I am Ensign B of Tremps' Troops
    with the A to Z Challenge

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  2. I remember way, way back when I was in school one of my favourite teachers commenting on an Agatha Christie book I was reading. She said her biggest problem with Christie was that she "cheated" - letting her detectives hold onto secrets that her readers should have been privy to (e.g. it turns out in the last chapter that Hercule Poirot overheard a conversation back in chapter 10 when he was sitting unobserved in a ginormous wing backed chair). It really stuck with me.

    It's definitely a balancing act.

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    1. I've not noticed that with Christie, at least not in the ones I've read, but then I haven't read a lot of Poirot - I'll have to go back and check now :)

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  3. Yes, I definitely think the "drip feed" approach to letting the reader in on things is best. Some might pick up on more than others, but at least it doesn't all come out at the end as an anti-climax. The trick is still surprising at the end, but letting the reader feel they could have worked it all out. Tricky!

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  4. Great post. I have to agree revealing the unknown has to be done slowly or you lose your readers.

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  5. When it comes to fictional secrets, timing is key. When I'm writing, I like to just drop the bomb on my readers. :)

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  6. I do this with my children's books, as if talking to them, but don't think I am keen when reading or writing a book for adults. That's a difficult juggling act, telling and keeping the interest.

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    1. It something that I don't always get right in draft 1 :)

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  7. Right, slow and steady - always keeping the reader in mind. Never slap your readers in the face.

    Precious Monsters

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  8. Sometimes knowing characters drive me nuts. I want to yell at them and ask why the hell they didn't just speak up earlier? Of course, that might make the book shorter, so it's better that they didn't.

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    1. Dumbledore did that for me a few times :)

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  9. If I had to be taken into a fictional character's confidence in the midst of a book, it would be the character in John Irving's book "The Cider House Rules" It is the characters own life opinions that were created throughout his childhood that keeps him very interesting, well loved by me :) He has a special honesty that is familiar and comforting.
    http://sytiva.blogspot.com/

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  10. I really hoped Neville would emerge as the real hero in the end and we would find out that everyone made a fuss about Harry to divert Voldemort from Neville... that would have been a plot twist for the ages. Sadly, she didn't go that far...
    If I could know the secrets of one fictional character, it would probably be Marquis de Carabas from Neil Gaiman's Neverwhere :)

    @TarkabarkaHolgy from
    Multicolored Diary - Epics from A to Z
    MopDog - 26 Ways to Die in Medieval Hungary

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    1. I have to go back and watch Neverwhere - and read it :)

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  11. Replies
    1. too many, or too few to pick from? ;P

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  12. I can see the advantage of slowing letting on about the characters and letting the readers in with the knowing. That's one thing predictable about Danielle Steele and her writing (I like to read her when I can do two or three different things at the same time like keep an eye on dinner, the kids when they were younger, etc., because you don't have to go too deep in her books). By page 25 of any book she wrote, you knew where the story was going with maybe a twist here or there, but always predictable.

    betty

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    1. Those kind of books are good for a light read :)

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  13. There are too many books to choose from.

    Revealing the secret comes down to the story plot and what works best for the character, I think. Great post.

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