Being in the know

As a writer, at the moment I’m working on a book where the reader knows a lot more about what’s happening than the characters in the book do.

That’s because the heroine is posing as someone she’s not, and the hero has access to more information than she does. So each has to operate within the parameters they know, and that leads to assumptions and decisions that aren’t fully informed. Just like real life. With the reader standing over it all, not completely omnipotent, but not far off. And yet still, hopefully, intimate with the characters, too.

I’ve also been tweaking and reworking another historical novel of mine, and again, the one character is pretending to be someone she’s not, in fact, she has two layers of deception going – one on a large number of people, and a second one on an individual – and the reader is the only one who has all the facts.

I find when I’m reading it, its a fun feeling. Knowing something, seeing someone make assumptions you know are wrong, and blundering about, making decisions that are off. I don’t read many books where this is the case, but when I do read them, I like them. And I think they are obviously more common in a novel where the main character is deceiving most of the other characters.

The trick is to make that deception necessary, and have the reader’s full sympathy for it, while still liking and routing for the other main characters, even though you know they are being misled.

It is also fun to discover things along with the main character, and in first person novels, that’s the only way it can be. But in third person, where there is more than one point of view character, there is scope for the reader to be the only one who knows everything, and I think it adds to the tension, because its like a car wreck you can see about to happen, but can’t do anything to stop. You just have to watch and see how it all pans out after the crash-tinkle-tinkle.

So, what are your thoughts about being in the know as a reader? Do you like it? Do you enjoy the power the writer gives you? And do you use that power for good? LOL.

About Michelle Diener

Michelle Diener writes historical fiction and fantasy. To find out more about her and her novels, you can visit her website.
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14 Responses to Being in the know

  1. Amy Remus says:

    I personally like a story being told in third person and reading about each of the main character’s feelings, thoughts, and reasons for things. Like you said, it is like a wreck waiting to happen. While you can get frustrated with the two characters that don’t see that the other one loves them for example, you can also feel for each of them knowing their true emotions. I have also read stories where I don’t know everything and that is fun, too! It is always interesting hearing how authors think when writing their books. Thanks, Michelle!

    • Thank you, Amy. I love all types and styles of writing, too, but I’m glad to hear you think it’s fun to let the reader in on most of the secrets.

  2. Virna DePaul says:

    I love being in know as a reader. It gives me the same feeling as watching a movie knowing that the actor is about to step into something perilous. It adds another dimension to the story. :)

  3. Msity Evans says:

    I hadn’t thought about this, Michelle, but after reading your post, I realize I most enjoy reading deep 3rd person POV so I know the character’s thoughts or 1st person POV for the same reason. I want to connect with the character, and if the author has written them well, I will. I don’t need to know everything in their heads, but I do like sharing their emotions and angst so I can watch them grow.

  4. Amy Atwell says:

    I agree that 3rd person POV is my favorite, and I love it when I know things about a character or situation that another character doesn’t know. It’s like being trusted to be on the inside and it bonds me with the characters. Eager to see the new stories you’re working on!
    Amy Atwell`s last blog was …The Starting Line

  5. Edie Ramer says:

    Deep 3rd POV is my favorite for my own books, and I do tend to let the reader know what’s going on that the other person doesn’t know. In your books, Michelle, you handle deep 3rd beautifully!

  6. Dale Mayer says:

    Yup, I’m with the crowd. Deep 3rd for me. I’ve read several books that were in 1st that were seemless fun reads, but if it’s not beautifully done, it bugs the heck out of me and I won’t finish the book :)
    Dale Mayer`s last blog was …Update on my books in progress!

  7. Michelle,
    I love being able to play around with POV from novel to novel. I really enjoy both reading and writing in first person, but there is a lot to enjoy about getting multiple perspectives, too, and letting the reader in on information that the characters may not yet know. I think it gives the author and the reader a special bond when that happens because they get to join together to worry about the character :).

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