Just tell us already!!
Writers can use a plot device of withholding information just for the sake of prolonging the story. Sometimes it works. Sometimes it seems forced.
Plot Devices Can Sometimes Drive me Crazy
In a lot of paranormal Young Adult novels, authors will employ a common plot device called Withholding Information. This is when the secondary or side characters deliberately withhold information from the narrator. This usually leads to “discovery” plots or mystery solving which could easily be solved if the side character would just explain.
There are a few reasons that a side character might withhold information:
- Villainy. They are the antagonist
- Big-Picture. There is some “greater good” justification
- Fear. The side characters were afraid for main characters reaction.
But, sometimes when I read a book there is no logical explanation of why the information was never revealed. Or the hero/heroine never even asks or delves deeper into the mystery. There is nothing more roll-eye-worthy when a side character goes, “You’ll die at 18 if you don’t become a vampire!” and the main character goes, “Ok!”
Or, even worse, when a side character suddenly becomes all cryptic. Um, the side character was just speaking in country slang – and now when asked to explain why he has wings, he begins speaking in rhymes. Why? Just because. Wouldn’t want to spell it out – then the book would be over in fifty pages.
I understand authors want to build tension and employ a sense of mystery to the book, but if there is no sense behind the withholding information scenario the tension is FAKE and you are just employing a cheap plot trick.
Does this bother anyone else? Have you read any books that have done this right? or wrong?