Little Did They Know

Writers should avoid telling readers that something is about to happen, and just let it happen.

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A lot of new writers have a very similar habit. In this essay, we’ll take a trip to this bad habit and, together, discover exactly what it is, and why you shouldn’t do it.

See that? That is what so many writers do, and it’s an incredibly bad habit that needs to be broken out of. If you write a chunk of text that tells the reader that something is coming, you have made a fundamental error. Now, if you do this, you have likely done so with the best of intentions. I know this because I used to do this all the time, and think that it builds tension, engages the reader, and makes them continue reading.

It doesn’t.

We can break this down into its most basic elements to show what is actually happening:

This is some story.

Continue reading, reader, as there is some more story coming up.

Some more story.

Not only is doing this a complete waste of both yours and the reader’s time, it has a detrimental effect on the reader too. It pulls them out of the story. Let’s look at a more tangible example.

Sarah opened the book. Inside it, the words told her everything that she needed to know about the Forgotten Chalice. Little did she know that the quest to obtain the chalice would result in her losing the thing she couldn’t afford to get rid of: herself.

Things like that don’t belong in the main body of the text. Not only are you destroying the tension you were trying to build by telling the reader what’s coming, you also stop telling the story so that you can tell us that there’s a story coming up. Plus, of course, there’s the thematic spoiler at the end. All in all, this is a bad habit.

There is a simple solution to this, however: don’t do it. If you’ve done it, remove the offending part. Next, I’ll tell you why no one will notice that it has been removed. No one will notice that it has been removed because it is irrelevant, much like that last sentence.

David Chitty was born and raised in Thanet in the 90s. He devotes most of his energies to writing fantasy fiction novels.

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