little did he know

a post on subtlety

Subtlety in prose is a fine balance of two things – beauty, and respect for the intelligence of your readers. When you reveal things, you want them to feel surprising, but also correct.  That sounds spectacularly daunting to me, but it’s something I want to attempt. The effect of finding out that Darth Vader is Luke’s father – or that Snape really was a good guy the whole time – is a truly rare thing to accomplish, and therefore obviously I want it all the more. There’s nothing I love more than a “holy crap” moment in a story, be it books, comics, TV, movies, politics, or anything else than can be considered an ongoing fiction.

So accordingly I try to dissect the best of these regularly in the hopes of gleaning some insight on how the writer(s) made that moment happen. The trick seems to be how you plant the seeds. It’s the tiny mentions of clues in out-of-the-way places – “little did he know that this seemingly innocuous act would bring about his untimely death,” as they say in Stranger Than Fiction. But how do you plant them small enough not to ping the reader’s “duh” sense, but big enough that they’ll remember the seed was there when the reveal happens? This is a question I cannot answer yet…let’s just call it an aspiration.

Ganbatte, writer-san.

/cast iPod [Snow Patrol – The Lightning Strike]