Jay Lake (jaylake) wrote,
Jay Lake

[travel|process] Going to Kansas City, gonna get some foreshadowing today

Off to Kansas City soon. Mmm, ribs. Mmm, something that is not work.

I've been reading a Certain Book lately, in small snatches as my schedule permits. It's got me thinking on the relationship between foreshadowing and Stupid Character Syndrome.

Foreshadowing should be subtle and even somewhat misdirected. Mysteries live and die by this. The critical information, the warning, the clue, is blended in with words which are doing other work — description, characterization, plot advancement, or ideally a number of these things at once — so that later the reader can slap themselves on the forehead and say, "Oh, that was why Uncle Ivan's revolver had a cracked pearl handle." If the reader instead says, "Man, what a moron that detective is, it was always obvious Aunt Tatya was the killer," then the foreshadowing has failed and instead we have Stupid Character Syndrome.

There a tendency in the series of which a Certain Book is the terminal volume to provide foreshadowing with large blinking neon signs which are obvious to the reader but invisible to the otherwise allegedly intelligent, thoughtful and magically aware characters. Which pretty much saps them of their intelligence, thoughtfulness and magical awareness for me. I suspect the auctorial intent is to help the reader along with the plot, and I celebrate the success of a Certain Book, the series from which it stems, and its author. Still, both as a reader and a writer I like my characters to be smart, just like the story they inhabit.
Tags: books, personal, process, travel, writing

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