Welcome to Ron’s Tip of the Day. Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays I will share a tip with you. Today I am looking at Mystery.
To clarify I am not talking about the genre mystery.
That is somewhat related, but I am talking about all books need a little mystery. And I am not necessarily talking about who killed who. Rather, I am talking about mystery surrounding a character or place or event.
Could you explain that?
Yes. I believe that authors today tell the readers too much. I’ve mentioned it before, but the reader’s imagination is a tool that we should use more often.
For example, instead of saying, Jim was in love, why not show it? Perhaps he decides to send Alice a bouquet of flowers. The word ‘love’ doesn’t have to appear because the action displays it. The beauty of this approach is that you the writer can convey the fact Jim is in love with Alice by describing how meticulous he is in selecting just the right flowers.
Another example could be instead of saying Tom can’t swim, you write a scene where Tom is in the water desperately trying to stay afloat. He experiences panic, swallows’ water, and is alone in the sea.
The idea is to let the story or character convey the action rather than you the author telling the reader what happens.
Does that mean I don’t describe anything?
No. You want to strike for balance. Sometimes prose is needful, sometimes letting the character experience the action or view is better. You as the author make that choice. Hopefully, your character or the story itself will naturally communicate which is better and when.
Where is the Mystery?
When the character doesn’t know what is going to happen next, your readers shouldn’t know either, in most cases. You don’t need the reader to know the future unless that is important to your story. A little mystery can add to the reader’s expectations.
Tip of the Day: Add mystery by not telling all.
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R Frederick Riddle is the Editor of TR Writing Services providing help to struggling and/or new authors to write and publish their books. He is also an author of Historical, Speculative, and Mystery fiction, plus co-founder and Vice President of T&R Independent Books. To reply to any blog you can comment on a blog and/or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. His Facebook page is at RFrederickRiddlesWorld.