Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Appearances can be deceptive

Take the gravelly River Derwent (The river I swim in in summer), for instance. Look at this picture:-


You could swear that's a shallow stretch of water. You can see the bottom! It's clear! Surely you could roll up your trouser legs and paddle across that without getting more than your ankles wet, right?

Wrong.

Right by where I'm standing, it's two foot deep. Over on the far side, it's getting closer to three.

I started thinking about that in terms of characters, and writing. Now, no-one in their right mind would slip into the dark, dank waters of a canal. You can't see the bottom, you can't see anything. Just black-brown water. You can't see it, so you assume it's deep.

In the clear waters near where I live, it's hard to believe the rocks you can see clearly under the water aren't just a few inches deep.

But many canal edges are actually quite shallow, with the accumulation of weed and silt. And many of our clear rivers can swallow a man standing.

So I thought:- What's hidden from view is not as dangerous as what is in plain sight.

Because when you can see it plainly, you can believe it's safe... and that belief can lead you into danger.

The things we hide from a reader aren't the most powerful twists or the most edge-of-the-seat suspense. It's the things that are in plain sight, that turn out to be other than they thought, that can pack the most punch.

4 Comments:

At 9:05 am, Anonymous Sue Child said...

Very thought-provoking, Anna. Thank you

 
At 12:18 pm, Blogger liz fenwick said...

Clearly I need to think about twists. Your thoughts really made sense as did C.S. Harris's on her blog http://csharris.blogspot.com/. Must take some time and thinking about twist and what I chosse to show.

Thanks for the insight Anna :-)

 
At 8:22 am, Blogger Anna Lucia said...

Thanks, Sue, Liz!

I found the musing interesting, and thought I'd share.

We spend so much effort hiding things in suspense stories... maybe we should hide in plain view!

 
At 7:55 pm, Blogger Gabriele C. said...

And many of our clear rivers can swallow a man standing.

We have these here as well. And judging from the sources the Romans hated those rivers while the Germans swam them and escaped. :)

 

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