Friday, June 25, 2010
Subtlety vs the Sledge Hammer
To give this freedom to the reader, a writer must employ subtlety. Rather than revealing all the secrets at once, it’s more effective to leave hints and clues, and foreshadow what is to come.
Jaws was such a successful movie because we weren’t sledge-hammered by the shark. We didn’t even see the shark for the majority of the film. Our imaginations worked overtime.
The use of subtlety is important even if your novel isn’t a mystery or a thriller.
Subtlety requires a certain level of trust in your readers. They have long memories so you can trust they will remember the hints you leave lying around in your plot. It might even encourage them to read your novel more than once because they’ll want to go back and pick up on the clues again.
Subtlety also requires a certain level of trust in yourself as a writer. With that confidence you’ll be able to allow your words to ring true without the use of a sledge hammer. You’ll be more willing to show rather than to tell.
Do you agree that subtlety is a clever tool to keep your readers interested? Do you struggle with the confidence to keep your writing subtle?