When to do the reveal

Discussion in 'General Writing Discussion' started by Mouse, Apr 2, 2012.

  1.  
    Mouse

    Mouse roar

    Joined:
    Jun 2, 2006
    Messages:
    8,584
    If you've got secrets in your WiPs, when do you bring them out? At the end?

    I've got quite a few little secrets in mine. One, at the moment, is 'who is the murderer?' Now, I never intended for that to be a secret. But I've not revealed it yet (19k words in) because it just hasn't had chance to be revealed yet.

    But it's come to the point now that I want/need to start writing from the murderer's POV properly. (They've had one scene so far and that's the one I started the 'gender' thread about).

    Would you be disappointed that a 'secret' has been revealed quite early on? Or wouldn't you mind?

    Now, the murderer's identity isn't the biggest secret. That one will come at the end. So does that make it ok?
  2.  
    allmywires

    allmywires not sure if...

    Joined:
    Mar 8, 2012
    Messages:
    1,483
    I love secrets so I always put off the reveal as long as possible ;) But I do think you've got to do some reveals fairly early on, or else your reader is in danger of losing track and/or interest. Then again, too many(or too big) reveals could mean you're in danger of leeching the tension out of the work.

    Short answer: if it's not the 'big reveal', and you've got more shenanigans going on to keep the work going, then go ahead.
  3.  
    thaddeus6th

    thaddeus6th Active Member

    Joined:
    Sep 15, 2007
    Messages:
    3,258
    Damn. Started to answer this because Bane of Souls also has a large number of murders, but I don't want to give away the plot, as it'll be released hopefully in a month or two.

    In general terms, I think that revealing everything early on is a mistake. A lot can be revealed, but I like learning something near or at the end which twists things and makes the story seem a little different.
  4.  
    Abernovo

    Abernovo Accident-prone, allegedly

    Joined:
    Sep 13, 2011
    Messages:
    2,373
    So long as it's obvious that there are more mysteries still to be revealed and it leads towards the final reveal, I wouldn't have a problem with it.

    In fact, I like the breadcrumb approach, with information revealed a little at a time before a finale.
  5.  
    Piousflea

    Piousflea New Member

    Joined:
    Mar 25, 2012
    Messages:
    54
    Not every story needs to have a "Big Reveal!" near the end. There are plenty of stories out there that are played completely straight, you know who the villains and the heroes are, you know their plans, and you know their tactics. As long as they all interact in fun and exciting ways, a non-surprising finale can work just fine. (for example - Gollum taking the One Ring and falling into the fire was about as predictable as they get)

    It's definitely okay to give away secrets gradually throughout the plot. If the murderer's identity is not the "Big Reveal!" then I don't see anything wrong with giving it away relatively early.
  6.  
    Warren_Paul

    Warren_Paul Banishment this world!

    Joined:
    Jan 28, 2012
    Messages:
    2,589
    You don't want to give away all your secrets ASAP, there should always be some unanswered questions, to make the reader keep reading in-order to find the answer.

    Even though there is a bigger one, I'd still think the identity of the murderer would be a major secret that the reader should have to wait for to know.

    I remember watching a show, and one season there were all these murders going on, but we didn't know who the killer was. It went a whole season like this, until the very last episode of that season where the murderer was revealed. The next season afterwards had heaps of scenes from his PoV since we knew who he was then, and it was the whole season of what he got up to and trying to catch him.

    So long story short, I'd recommend writing at least half the book or more without us knowing the identity of the murderer.

    90% of the secrets in my book you don't find the answers to until the final climatic ending - and even then some are left unanswered for the next book. I just drop hints and clues to get the reader thinking about it, then do a big reveal at the end.
  7.  
    Mouse

    Mouse roar

    Joined:
    Jun 2, 2006
    Messages:
    8,584
    Hmm... just you then, Warren, who thinks differently at the mo!

    I'm thinking it'll be too random if I just drop who the murderer is in at the end. Plus the way that the murders are done mean that we need to see it from the character's PoV to know how they happened because I can't get it in any other way. Does that make sense?
  8.  
    Grizzgreen711

    Grizzgreen711 The Bloody Scribbler

    Joined:
    Aug 9, 2011
    Messages:
    359
    I think that revealing 'who' the murderer is, around 19k words in, could actually work. I think it would depend upon how much time the reader has invested in the person who turns out to be the murderer.

    If it's someone they have become familiar with and they discover that he is a psychotic killer, then it might could be fun from the reader's stand point. Because before the reveal, they think that they know him; they've learned all these things about his past and present, relationships, his intelligence, etc. . Now, about 19k words into the story, he's become something completely different; I think it could be quite an interesting story from that direction.

    I don't know, it sounds interesting to me. Of course, I don't know your story; the reader may not know anything about your killer.
  9.  
    Mouse

    Mouse roar

    Joined:
    Jun 2, 2006
    Messages:
    8,584
    The killer's name has come up in conversation once and we've had one small scene with them in, but we didn't know it was them.

    So, the reader doesn't know them at all at the moment. I'm going to get my main girly to meet them, because I've got a connection for them, then I thought it'd be a nice lead in to the killer's POV.
  10.  
    Warren_Paul

    Warren_Paul Banishment this world!

    Joined:
    Jan 28, 2012
    Messages:
    2,589
    Yeah guess so. :eek:

    I wasn't saying to leave it right till the end either, just thought 20k into the story was too early - for me. But if the identity of the murder isn't what the main plot is about then you don't want to leave it right till the end anyway.

    So, go with your gut instinct! :)
  11.  
    Grizzgreen711

    Grizzgreen711 The Bloody Scribbler

    Joined:
    Aug 9, 2011
    Messages:
    359
    Ah, I see. That sounds interesting. You got me hooked. :)

    Solid advice though, as WP said, "Go with what your gut tells you." If you find it sounds like rubbish through a re-read, scrap it and go a different direction. At 19k words in, I think it's all about discovery!
  12.  
    Mouse

    Mouse roar

    Joined:
    Jun 2, 2006
    Messages:
    8,584
    Thanks guys. You know, I reckon I could write a few thousand words from the killer's PoV without revealing they were the murderer yet anyway. So. Write it and see, I suppose!
  13.  
    Abernovo

    Abernovo Accident-prone, allegedly

    Joined:
    Sep 13, 2011
    Messages:
    2,373
    Presuming it's not a murder mystery, that could add to the tension, knowing 'main girly' to meet the killer.

    EDIT: Looking at your last post, Mouse, you could experiment with imitating Iain Banks' Complicity, where the murders were written POV, but no personal info was ever revealed.
  14.  
    Mouse

    Mouse roar

    Joined:
    Jun 2, 2006
    Messages:
    8,584
    Nah, not a murder mystery. I think I'm worried in case it appears to be a murder mystery. Obviously, a reader will be disappointed to find out who the murderer is if they thought they were going to have to try to work it out for themselves.
  15.  
    Gumboot

    Gumboot lorcutus.tolere

    Joined:
    Feb 12, 2012
    Messages:
    949
    My response probably isn't very helpful...

    "Depends"

    Don't underestimate the literary value of revealing information right at the beginning; perhaps one of the best examples is Romeo and Juliet. That play wouldn't have a fraction of the dramatic tension if it wasn't revealed right at the beginning that both of them die.

    I think you have to manage reveals, because if you hold them all back your reader is liable to lose interest, and possibly be overwhelmed by all the reveals. At the same time you don't want to "blow your load" too soon.

    I find big reveals like that (but secondary to the final climax) to be really useful points to pin the dramatic turning points into act two and three (I tend to use a classic 3-act structure).
  16.  
    springs

    springs Juggling life

    Joined:
    Oct 5, 2011
    Messages:
    8,193
    I read some feedback from John Jarrold recently, and his take on it was don't be mysterious for the sake of it. If you're withholding something that's going to make it hard for the reader to understand what's going on you run the risk of losing them. So, yes, if you want a mystery, hold off. But leave enough in the story that the reader can follow it. If it's going to affect the ease of reading of the story not to tell when it feels like the right time, then tell them! I have no problem with drip drip, in fact I really can't be bothered with stories that scratch their chin sagely and know more than I do.
  17.  
    Stephen Palmer

    Stephen Palmer author of novels

    Joined:
    Dec 22, 2009
    Messages:
    1,789
    Two words - Gene Wolfe.

    'Nuff said. :D
  18.  
    Jake Reynolds

    Jake Reynolds Wordslinger

    Joined:
    Sep 24, 2010
    Messages:
    638
    Well, I've always thought that the position of the killer's identity reveal was largely genre based. If it's early on, it's a thriller/ horror. If it's at the end, it's a whodunnit. If its constant, it's unreadable. Simplistic, I know, but it depends on what you want your book to be.
  19.  
    Luiglin

    Luiglin Insomniac sonambulist

    Joined:
    Mar 22, 2012
    Messages:
    320
    I've never been one for murder mysteries (I cheat and skip through the book). I do like shocks though, finding the sudden reveal of a plot twist that hadn't even been hinted at as far more satisfying. I've tried to work this into my current tale.
    Is there anyway that you could partly reveal a selection of potential murderers through shock twists, thereby keeping the reader on their proverbial "toes"?
  20.  
    Ursa major

    Ursa major Bearly Believable Staff Member

    Joined:
    Aug 7, 2007
    Messages:
    14,107
    If it's not a key part of the book that the murderer's identity is kept secret, to the extent that it's revealed well before the end, you still need to take care when building up to the reveal. The reader may not want to feel that they're being teased or lied** to, particularly if this isn't the general way the book is written.



    ** - If the murderer has the sort of mind that thinks murder is just something that they do without thinking much about it, having one or two longish scenes where it never crosses their mind might work; otherwise it will look like some sort of prank on your part, and getting the reader to think about the author is probably not what you want.
Similar Threads: reveal
Forum Title Date
General Writing Discussion Revealing the true antagonist only at the end Apr 23, 2014
Press Releases ARCs and Cover Reveal--The Girl They Sold to the Moon Feb 6, 2014
Press Releases "Hairy London" front cover reveal Dec 28, 2013
SFF News Ghost Whisperer reveals season five plans Oct 20, 2013
SFF News Details of Dr Who Christmas special revealed Oct 20, 2013

Share This Page