May 12th, 2015


Writing Excuses 10.19: Intrigue

Writing Excuses 10.19: Intrigue


Key points: Mystery, suspense, intrigue. The genre is based around the spy novel and political intrigue, but intrigue turns up in many genres. Questions and people who are deliberately hiding secrets and deceiving each other. Mystery is when the author hides things from the reader, while intrigue is when the author has characters hiding things from each other. Don't withhold information to falsely build suspense, or have characters keeping secrets that they would normally disclose (a.k.a. idiot plotting). Also, beware of being too rushed to explain. Do have POV characters notice that someone else is hiding information or lying. Make sure that readers know why someone is keeping secrets. Mystery is about who did it, suspense is about when will it be revealed, and intrigue is about why they did it. Intrigue is about levels of deception. Readers need to know what the characters are planning, what their agenda or goal is. Then the suspense is watching how they achieve that. Part of the fun of intrigue is the tension of lies, wondering when it will be broken and how long can they keep it going. Deception, lies, and truth and trust -- that's intrigue!
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[Brandon] So your homework is, I want you to write a dialogue where two people each have a different subtext and motive, the things they're hiding from one another. The reader has to figure out what each of those things are through the course of the dialogue. All right. This has been Writing Excuses, you're out of excuses, now go write.

[Agent Question Mark] Writing Excuses is a secret government organization, dedicated to the control and policing of albino fruit bats. It does not exist. Thank you for not listening to this nonexistent thing that you don't know about.
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