Tuesday, January 11, 2011

The Reveal

How do you write a story with an ending that surprises? That question is what I am asking myself as I begin writing story four in the Miscorrection series.

The direction my story is going to take is known. However, it is not known how it will unravel. My goal is to write the story to make the reader think that they know what is happening. They need to believe they understand what the ultimate goal is going to be. But at the end, while what happens will be in line with their thoughts, the ending will be more than they expect.

This is my dilemma. Slowly, hints of information will need to reveal themselves. Some misdirection will no doubt need to take place. All of this to reach the finish line that leaves the reader satisfied and not frustrated.

Perhaps it’s happened to you. You’re watching a movie, TV show, or reading a book. You don’t know how it is going to end, or you think you do. But when that ending comes, it pulls the rug underneath your feet. Rather than being impressed by the disclosure, you are left aggravated and you feel tricked by what took place. It felt as if the ending didn’t match up with the rest of the story.

I can think of a few instances where this happened to me, and I hated it. An ending, no matter how surprising, can’t leave the reader or viewer feeling as if he couldn’t have seen it coming. They must be surprised but conclude that had they looked at the evidence more closely, they would have reached the conclusion of the ending anyway.

So this is where I stand. Reveal too much and the ending makes no impact. Reveal too little, and the reader becomes annoyed. It must be just the right amount of revelation and hidden information. I will attempt this balancing act, and only you can tell me if it has success.