Agh, this is driving me crazy. I have a story that is essentially an unfolding mystery where clues must dropped, and certain characters must speak and act cryptically so as not to give the answer away to the reader. But I am writing a novel from a third-person subjective point of view, which means every scene is written from inside one character’s head or another.
There are some scenes I need to write to give clues to the reader in which the participants in the scene just know too much.
It makes no sense that you, the reader, are in their head, and they are just conveniently not thinking about certain things I don’t want the reader to know yet. But I either have to write elliptically like that, or I have to write the scene from the POV of some random nobody who is also present. But if I do that, the reader might think this random character and their trivialities are important when they aren’t. The third option is to just leave the scene out, in which case part of the story just isn’t getting told.
Now am I wrong to think it’s the sign of an amateur to write elliptically, scene after scene of characters “just not thinking” things I don’t want the reader to know?
If this were TV, where everything is pretty much done from an external POV, you can have multiple scenes with cryptic characters with secrets. X-Files, for example, thrived on those “mysterious Deep Throat/Mr. X is mysterious” scenes, or the darkened hotel room where the stone-faced Consortium sat around talking about the Conspiracy.
Those sorts of scenes are frustrating for viewers, but they also make them want to piece together the clues and anticipate revelation of the answers.
My Trickster/Guide character has just fizzled into nothing, for example, because I’ve had to chop away at the things he knows one by one until he doesn’t know enough to be a guide at all, just because he is one of the central characters and we have to be in his head once in a while. There was a whole scene that was to take place from his POV where you learned of many of his feelings for the other characters, and I had to rewrite the whole thing from someone else’s POV instead because it made no sense for him to act certain ways and not have the reader privy to why he was acting that way because he was acting on knowledge I don’t want the reader to have yet.
I can’t think of a solution to this, but it is starting to seriously compound, the further I get into the story.