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Question About Revealing Plot

Discussion in 'Writing Discussions' started by jacksimmons, Jun 4, 2021.

  1. jacksimmons

    jacksimmons Scribe

    Hey guys,

    I am writing a short story/novella that is fairly straightforward plot-wise. It's a space-opera/dark fantasy thing about a family (two parents and a daughter) living on a gloomy alien planet and they are haunted by a being called a Kindastadht because of something terrible they did in the past.

    I want to keep this terrible thing a mystery until about 1/3 of the way through the story, with hints and slow reveals from the get-go. I just wonder if leaving this thing a mystery is going to frustrate the reader rather than compel them?

    The only way I know to really get honest feedback is just to post the beginning here and see what you guys think, although general ideas/points etc. for those who don't have the time to read will be much appreciated also.

    So with that in mind I have posted the first third of the story here: JustPaste.it - Share Text & Images the Easy Way

    Thanks in advance. And thanks especially if you read the story so far.
  2. Chasejxyz

    Chasejxyz Inkling

    I got day job stuff to get to so I don't have the time to read it right now, but I can answer your question otherwise. You can keep the MONSTER and how exactly it operates hidden pretty easily. You don't get a good look at the Cloverfield monster until the movie is almost over. Same thing with Ripley Scott's Alien (and not showing the full thing was also important because it's a guy in a rubber suit, so if you see the whole thing then you can see flaws in the practical fx). The less the reader knows about a scary thing, the better, because you will NEVER make something scarier than what a reader's imagination can. It'll fill in exactly whatever holes with the one thing the reader is scared of the most, which you have no way of guessing what that is. So that part is fine.

    But this "conflict" should be apparent from very early on. We should see this family being chased or harassed by this monster, even if they don't know what it is exactly. Your plot is very simple: family has to survive/escape the scary thing, so you don't need all that much to set it up. What's more important is what this scary thing has to do with the terrible thing they did, like does it connect to their guilt? Is it their punishment for what they did? Is there a way for them to escape this, to repent? And since your story is shorter, what's the big emotional turn/resolution? Is it that the reader learns what they did and is now no longer sympathetic for them? Or that the punishment doesn't fit the crime?

    If your thing is short enough, it shouldn't be too hard to get people to read the whole thing and give you structural/pacing feedback, since ultimately that's what your question is. A 3k word short story will need to be paced differently than a 30k word novella.
    jacksimmons and Gwynndamere like this.
  3. jacksimmons

    jacksimmons Scribe

    Thanks for the feedback ChasejxyzChasejxyz

    This is what I figured so I have referenced the conflict and hinted from just a few sentences in and then throughout. They are harassed by the monster by the second or third page, and by 4-5k in the exact nature of the creature and its link to their past is revealed. Your feedback here has been incredibly useful and encouraging as it seems we are sort of on the same page. Thank you!

    I am gonna answer your questions even though they were sort of rhetorical. It is pretty handy.

    The scary thing directly relates to their guilt as it is a demon summoned from injustice. Essentially, they have done something bad in the past and this creature is their punishment.

    The story is about a mother (Alys) and a daughter (Elia) and the husband that is caught in between. They live on a planet under rule of a tyrannical vampiric empire that regularly 'harvests' the population in big festivals. Four years earlier the vampires came for their daughter Elia but they instead gave up the daughter of their deceased friends, with whom they had been entrusted, in her place.

    Alys suffers from postnatal depression and detachment and thematically the creature is a metaphor for this. It possesses the daughter and harasses Alys and as a result Alys has never been able to love Elia. She even goes as far as to imagine removing Elia from their life, and makes plans to poison her if she is unable to fix their situation.

    Alys goes on a journey to rid herself of the creature. The emotional resolution is essentially that Alys, in the end, despite her lack of love, realises she must sacrifice herself for Elia in order to undo the curse. She saves Elia from the vampires (known as the Huntahn Brotherhood) and she herself dies. This breaks the curse and saves Elia and her husband and is a sort of redemption for Alys.

    Thanks again!
    Chasejxyz likes this.
  4. Gwynndamere

    Gwynndamere Dreamer

    I agree with Chasejxyz lots of great ways to build suspense and show the conflict & how it affects the family (and how they respond to it) without revealing the Monster.
    I read what you posted and it's good. The changing of the creature and the girl, keeps you in suspense. I can imagine the journey will be fraught with possibilities!
  5. jacksimmons

    jacksimmons Scribe

    Thanks for reading GwynndamereGwynndamere! Much appreciated! I am glad it was more 'suspenseful' and less 'frustrating'.

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