Sunday, October 2, 2011

Withholding Information

This is my latest post from "Suspense Secrets." So, what do you think about this bit of advice from Mosaic Writing?

"Withholding pertinent character information can also build suspense."

The blogger goes on to give examples from the book Skellig by David Almonds, stating the author only reveals a particular character's description (early on in the book) and not his nature or even his name. I haven't read Skellig, so I'll take the blogger's word for it, but this bit of advice sounds intriguing to me. I suppose that's because I've been thinking a lot about beginnings lately, and I've read conflicting advice about initial character development. Some say to describe the MC so the reader is able to connect with him/her before the inciting incident actually happens, and others say to jump right in with the inciting incident and worry about descriptions, etc., later.

In reality, the blogger probably wasn't referring to beginnings at all, and was likely offering another example of stringing the reader along with crumbs of details or even misleading them with red herrings and misinterpreted information. And yet, I'm thinking about it in relation to beginnings. Your thoughts?


  1. I agree with this advice. I think leaving a little unknown does keep a reader reading. Of course you don't want to leave so much unknown that the character's actions make no sense.

  2. Hi Marsha! I think regarding beginnings (as in, the beginning pages of a book) that it is always best to give some description of the MC and his/her dilemma. The reader needs to connect with them, and fast. I understand wanting to be mysterious, but if the reader connect with a character in the first page or two, they may not keep reading. Just my two cents. Hope the rest of your weekend is lovely!

    -- Gwendolyn from "The Way of Impressions"