One of the most important scenes in my entire novel, a climactic moment that occurs in a vivid, dramatic setting and involves almost all of the major characters, is currently under construction.
I spent most of today working on this scene and the events leading up to it, and I still have more left to do. It’s definetly the most involved revision I have planned––and once it’s done, I can finally add the many mini-chapters I have outlined in my revision notebook. But until then, I’m stuck in an old Victorian somewhere on Long Island.
As I was writing a new conversation between A and G, and another one between A and F, I realized that I was giving much more away to my readers than I’d originally intended at the point in the novel. Before, I had been very vague, hinting at what was really happening but refraining from using certain character’s names.
With my revisions, everything was much more up-front, which allowed my characters to have far more realistic, confrontational encounters amongst each other, and let me propel the plot forward much more vigorously.
Still, this made me think about when readers should find out about the big spoilers in a novel. I’m not talking about spoilers that happen within the action of the book, like character deaths, but rather the reveals of true identities and old relationships between the characters.
I can’t get too specific right now, but the two main lines of narration (there are three and a half narrators in total) in my novel are closely linked, although one characters has no idea the other exists until about halfway through the book… But is this the right time? Is this when readers will be at the very edges of their seats, learning the news with her?
Or, as I think is the case with my manuscript, will readers already have a vague idea of the truth? Will this depend on the reader––some picking up on clues that others miss? Or is it obvious enough from the very first hint I drop?
Of course, since my novel is a suspense novel, timing those big reveals is a delicate, difficult job. Revealing something too early in the book won’t satisfy readers, as they’re aren’t yet very invested in learning the truth. But waiting too long can be anti-climactic, especially if readers are exhausted from reading hundreds of pages without learning anything new.
So, think of this as a Spoiler Alert Save-The-Date. There’ll be plenty of them. I’m just not sure when yet.
Until the next chapter…