forestofglory: Blue butterflies in front of pale white people with long flowing hair (blue magic)
[personal profile] forestofglory
I'm trying to articulate a thing I don't like in fiction. It has to do with the characters and the reader/audience not knowing the same things. I was watching and episode of TV where a character travels to a parallel universe and to me as viewer it was very obvious what had happened but it took the character half the episode. This was so frustrating! They spent so much time being confused about it.

I also don't like when the characters know things but the author is hiding it form the audience. If the characters are hiding it form the reader, or only a character who is not the view point character knows then that can be ok. I can think of lots of example here but they are all spoilerific. But like in old mysteries when the detective has solved the case but waits until everyone is there to explain. (I think some mystery readers who like to guess the answer enjoy this?)

I really hate suspense so narratives that keep hinting at dark secretes or that something awful is going to happen just make me anxious.

I was listening to the latest episode of the Reading The End podcast and one of the Jennys mentioned she hated being in the dark in stories. I don't think this quite the same thing. I can be confused if the characters are confused. And I really like that thing where the author just throws you into the middle of the world and you figure out how it works but piece together little details. "Inculing" I think its called.

Anyways what do you think of audience character information miss-matches? Do you like them? not like them? Only like them under certain circumstances?

Date: 2019-02-20 07:56 pm (UTC)
ambyr: a dark-winged man standing in a doorway over water; his reflection has white wings (watercolor by Stephanie Pui-Mun Law) (Default)
From: [personal profile] ambyr
I like it when I know something the character can’t possibly know; I enjoy that tension, waiting for the ah-ha moment. I don’t like it when I know something I feel like the character *should* know but is being dense about for plot reasons.

Date: 2019-02-20 09:47 pm (UTC)
isis: (Default)
From: [personal profile] isis
Yeah, I'm in agreement with this. When the reader knows things the character doesn't, it creates a wonderful tension.

The reverse, I like if it's something that's soon revealed through action, e.g.: "I've got a plan," Sara said, then whispered it to Rosemary -> the plan plays out in the narrative. This is often more interesting to read than if Sara explains the plan to Rosemary in the text, and then: It all worked perfectly, and Quinn ran off screaming into the night as the two women laughed.

Date: 2019-02-22 12:03 pm (UTC)
jack: (Default)
From: [personal profile] jack
Well put. I can't quite figure out the combination that annoys me.

There's often a period where the character is working out what's going on when it's obvious to the viewer, something like "wait, magic, is that real, no I don't believe it", or "wait, is this a ground hog day? what's going on" or "but who could the spy possibly be?". Either because the story wouldn't really make sense without it, or because the author wasn't able to predict when things would become obvious to the reader, but it drags on if it's not entertaining for another reason.

I really like finding out about worlds, so I'm also often annoyed by gaps where I'm not sure if they're supposed to be there or not, something like, there's something about the worldbuilding that would be obvious to the characters but isn't conveyed to the reader, and I'm like, "is this supposed to be a mystery? Or did the author just assume it was obvious and didn't realise it might have multiple interpretations?"

When something is deliberately kept back, sometimes it works well for me: I quite like the "character is planning something, we only belatedly find out what" trope. But only when it feels like it plays fair. I'm not quite sure when that is.


forestofglory: E. H. Shepard drawing of Christopher Robin reading a book to Pooh (Default)

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