#2 — Vagueness for tension
I wanted to talk about vagueness today. A novel I edited kept saying “him” and “his death” for twenty or so pages before actually explaining who he was. Instead of feeling a sense of curiosity, I felt more confused. I kept wondering who he was and why he mattered.
I’ve run across this type of vagueness before. Some writers think that leaving information out will let the story’s tension build. But that’s not exactly how it works.
Readers get confused and usually turn away from a piece when they find so much vagueness. They don’t see it as tension, but rather confusion. Sometimes their eyes will skim the pages until they find the answer they’re looking for, which takes the reader out of the experience.
Tension is hard to build in a story, but one thing I’ve learned is that tension has to come naturally. Don’t be vague to make the readers feel more tension. Rather, be open about what’s going on, and the tension of the story will follow through.
If you’re going to write it (as in any story detail), explain it.
I hope this helps!