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Am I revealing things too soon?

Discussion in 'Writing Discussions' started by Ireth, Dec 8, 2016.

  1. Ireth

    Ireth Myth Weaver

    I'm having second thoughts about a scene in Winter's Queen, wherein the MC has a talk with the Winter King about her upcoming marriage to the King's son and why it's a bad idea. She basically lays the villainous prince's plan (patricide following the wedding so the prince can seize the throne) bare, but the King dismisses her concerns as foolish. This comes back to bite him in the butt when things play out almost as the MC predicted, resulting in the King being nearly killed by his son after the wedding plan goes sour.

    This exchange takes place in chapter 8 of a (currently) 21-chapter book. Originally I didn't have the MC fully realize the prince's plot until almost the climax of the book, in chapter 16. It was meant to be a big twist, but at the advice of my beta reader I decided to experiment with showing my hand earlier. As I said, though, I'm not sure which is the better course of action. Here's the ch. 8 conversation (or at least the most relevant excerpt) for context's sake:

    “His Highness seems to value your opinion highly,” [Ariel] said at last. The glee in Fiachra’s face during their first meeting with the King had been all but palpable.

    “He always has. As any heir should value the opinion of the one he seeks to inherit from. How else is he to follow the path I trod before him?”

    “Indeed, Majesty.” Ariel shuddered inwardly to think of what Fiachra would be like as king. His ego didn’t need any more inflating. “But I can’t help but think maybe he means to speed the process along, and... clear the path ahead of him.”

    The King looked at her sharply. “What do you mean?”

    She took a deep breath. “Does it not strike Your Majesty as suspicious that His Highness wants to get married so badly, as you yourself mentioned before? It also sounds like he really wants an heir of his own, given he went to so much trouble to find a human bride rather than having his pick of eligible Fae. And it goes without saying that you’re immortal, and thus can’t give over the throne by dying of sheer old age. Likewise you seem to be in excellent health and well-liked by your subjects, so I can’t think of any reason you would choose to abdicate. What other option is there for him, if His Highness seeks the throne for himself?”

    His eyes narrowed. “You seem very certain of this for a girl who has known my son little less than two days. Has he told you outright that he seeks kingship?”

    “No, Your Majesty. But I think it would be wise not to dismiss the possibility.”

    He raised a brow. “I think you have put too much stock in fairy-tale conventions.”

    The King’s words were so ironic, Ariel wondered if they hurt him. “Those conventions have their roots in truth, Your Majesty, and they persist in story after story for good reason.”

    “Even so, why would my son seek to kill me?”

    “You said yourself that he seeks your approval. I saw how happy he was when you approved his choice to marry me--”

    “As did I. So he should be satisfied.”

    Ariel bit her tongue to keep from saying out loud that one moment of satisfaction was probably just a lot more incentive for Fiachra to act. How many times before now had he been denied his father’s praise?
  2. Chessie

    Chessie Guest

    Which way feels right in your gut? Or are you undecided?
  3. Ireth

    Ireth Myth Weaver

    I'm very much undecided. I feel like having Ariel figure things out earlier gives her a little more incentive to leave, because she knows exactly what's at stake for her (or at least assumes she does). But at the same time, I'm worried that it makes my plot seem bland and predictable, if the reader knows what's coming.
  4. Chessie

    Chessie Guest

    I'm sorry, Ireth, not sure how to help you. The best I can come up with is to just go with your gut and what makes the most sense. It might take testing out both sides to see which one fits better. Good luck.
    Ireth likes this.
  5. La Volpe

    La Volpe Sage

    I'm with Chessie. It mostly depends on what you want to do. Both ways can work. Use the coin-flip trick if you can't decide (i.e. flip a coin for twist or reveal, and see how you feel about the result. So, e.g. if it lands on "twist" and you're disappointed, go with reveal, and if you're not, go with twist).

    Though, I just want to mention that early reveals can be an excellent way of creating suspense. Most stories even have a bit of this built in: Most stories will end up with the hero defeating the villain. But just because we know that Frodo will get the ring to Mordor doesn't mean the story isn't exciting. So I don't think the story will be bland and predictable just because you revealed the villain's plan early on. In fact, the way you're doing even allows room for doubt. Since Ariel doesn't have proof, just a feeling (I'm supposing, based off of the posted exchange), you can create all kinds of red herrings that make both her and the reader doubt that things will indeed turn out that way.
  6. cydare

    cydare Minstrel

    What if you compromise between the two? Ariel knows the prince means to kill his father, but has the wrong idea of when and how he'd do it. That way, she knows what's at stake and has more agency, but the details of what will happen in your story aren't revealed. Perhaps she thinks the prince means to strike before the wedding. Maybe he calls the king during preperations - to taste a dish, or try on a cloak, or something else...and Ariel is proven wrong. It would also the king to let down his guard if he was harbouring seeds of doubt, now that her original information was proven wrong.
  7. Peat

    Peat Sage

    I second Cydare's suggestion/question.

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