Should You Assume?

“There are events which are so great that if a writer has participated in them his obligation is to write truly rather than assume the presumption of altering them with invention.”
-Ernest Hemingway

A couple of months ago, I ended writing my first “trunk” novel, something every beginning author should do at least once or three times. It’s basically your first novel, the one you use to flesh out your writing skill, figure out what you’re good at. Luckily for me, that story will still be used. (‘Cause the plot’s amazing.) My novel now takes places a year after that one. Because of all the time I put into that world, the characters and such, I have a firm grasp over everything. When it comes to new things, (plot, twists, and new characters) not so much. But all in due time.

The second on that list brings me to the questions: Should I assume that a reader will understand a twist? One of the major twists in “my other novel” had to do with a property of a metal, something not every reader will know. Because of that, I thought the twist was great. Now, I never got to writing that part. I stopped my trunk novel about 3/4 of the way through, not enough to reveal the plot twist. I did’t get to show any of my beta readers this, so I don’t know if it would work.

I’m just assuming, namely because I have the same sort of thing going in this novel I’m writing. Not everyone will know the property of this object, this twist. Do I care? No. Does it detract from the twist, even if I allude to some other things? Not in my opinion. This is because I write fantasy. People think you must have a firm understanding of the world for any twists to come from it. I do, but the reader won’t. Luckily for them, I am not making up these metals and objects from my imagination. Everything I use “twist-wise” will come from my own experience, not something I’ve read on Wikipedia. (When concerning these certain twist items. There are many things in this novel I’ve never experienced. Hot-air balloon ships with pirates aren’t real last time I checked.)

Suffice to say, I must assume the reader will understand the twist I’m throwing at them. It can happen in real life. It can happen in my secondary world. That’s why it’s called speculative fiction. Anything is possible. Except for magic. Unless there was some weird radioactive explosion.

But I must be off. There is a plot twist I must jot down….

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3 thoughts on “Should You Assume?

  1. I’m not sure I follow you entirely, but it sounds interesting. I can’t say I’ve read much fantasy, but I did read a few books in college my professors called “magical realism”. One by Gabriel Garcia Marquez comes to mind (though the title escapes me). I know I was lot a fair amount while I was reading it, but still enjoyed the experience and beauty of his writing.

    • I doubt I was very clear anyway. The point for me saying that I write fantasy was that readers might point to the argument that I must say everything that will come as a twist. But if that “thing” exsists in real life, should I explain its properties? I don’t think so.

      Same way with a detective mystery. Should you tell the reader that, a story set in today, cocaine is illegal? Same way with metals. If I say something rusts, most people will jump to the conclusion that it is iron. But copper rusts as well, albeit not the same color.

      I doubt I’m any clearer.

      • I’m kind of following… Kind of.

        First of all. Nice post. I have a trunk novel myself, but unlike you, it will most likely never see the light of day. I wrote it when I was 11, and had read only three books prior to that, so it was… If I were to say it in a way that would spare my ego a blow, it wasn’t pretty.

        Well. I don’t think you should assume that every reader will understand a plot twist, but most plot twists are… Simple enough to follow. Provided you don’t execute said plot twist right off the get go when the reader doesn’t know much about the world, setting, etc.

        I don’t think you should really go into great detail (I.E. pastes from the Wikipedia page) about something that already exists in this real world. In this day and age, they can just confirm their suspicions on Wikipedia.

        Anyways. Looking forward to your excerpt, and sad to hear that your informative post fell through. Good luck with your current book, though. Writing mine was even harder than writing my trunk novel. Probably because it has a coherent story, an ensemble cast, and a main character that I don’t want to kill off. Agh! The troubles that plague a writer!

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