My guest today is Deby Fredericks, who contributed an essay to my writing book, Advanced Plotting.
Surprising Your Readers
I don’t know about you, but I have some ornery first readers. They enjoy figuring things out before I reveal them. No matter how artful the red herrings and how obscure the clues, my husband and friends are constantly guessing the surprises.
Since I pride myself on creating original stories instead of rehashing best-sellers, this stings. Does it mean I should keep my day job because all my ideas are lame and predictable? On the contrary. I take it as a challenge.
If the first readers figure things out too quickly, that just means I need to bring more to the telling. Extra twists after the first one. Depth and meaning beyond the obvious. That way, even if they saw through my artifice, there was a reason for them to keep reading.
So my husband knew right away that a supporting character in The Necromancer’s Bones was a ghost? That wasn’t as important as how he died. And my best friend could tell which prince was hiring the assassins in Too Many Princes? Well, she didn’t guess that the evil prince had been replaced by a doppelganger.
In both cases, having someone see the man behind the curtain pushed me to try harder on my plot. I added additional surprises and brought more depth to the characters, all to out-wit my first readers. Ultimately, I wrote a better book.
So as you work out your plot, remember there are readers out there who live for the thrill of guessing your surprises. Your job is to be sure there’s more to the story.
Deby Fredericks has three fantasy novels published by Dragon Moon Press:
Too Many Princes,
The Magister’s Mask,
and its sequel,
and its sequel,
The Necromancer’s Bones.
Get more essay like this one in Advanced Plotting, by Chris Eboch, along with a detailed explanation of the Plot Outline Exercise, a powerful tool to identify and fix plot weaknesses in your manuscripts. Buy Advanced Plotting for $9.99 in paperback on Amazon or as a $2.99 e-book on Amazon or Smashwords.