Saturday, May 18, 2024
Author Tips

How to take your readers by surprise

Readers often look for an element of surprise in a book. This can come in the form of a major plot twist or a change in tone that will have an emotional impact on the readers, without them feeling being pranked.

Taking your readers by surprise is no easy task. It takes a lot of subterfuge skills to pull off a genuine surprise. Below are some tips on surprising your readers without tricking them.

Inject changes to the tone

A horror story that begins with descriptions of dark hallways or howling dogs will already reveal to readers that something darker or horrifying might happen later on in the book. But a horror story that starts with humor or a jolly event will not give that away. Changes to the story’s tone can catch your readers off guard when you finally introduce the element of surprise.

Use different points of view

Writing a novel gives you a vast opportunity to experiment with different points of view. With hundreds or even thousands of pages at your disposal, you have plenty of room to unravel what one character knows or what the others don’t and vice versa.

Reveal the details using exposition

Providing loads of information throughout your book and then revealing only at the end that the main character is already dead can feel like manipulative. Instead, you can reveal all the details in a story using exposition in which you gradually uncover pieces of information as the story progresses. But it is important to know which information to reveal and when.

Establish micro details about your character

Small details about a character are important to hint at what might come in the later part of the story. Establishing these details early in the story can add credibility to your character’s future accomplishments. For example, a child who was fond of reading is now one of the world’s literary luminaries. It won’t exactly surprise your reader, but it will help them avoid feeling tricked.

Jay Hogarth

Jay Hogarth is ARPress' resident content manager, responsible for all public-facing information posted on this blog and on the main site.

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