Dramatic Irony vs Suspense

Dramatic Irony vs Suspense

In any novel with secrets when they are finally brought to light there are two main ways to reveal them.  You can reveal them to your readers, and not the characters.  The other way is that the reader does not know something until a character does.  Novels that focus on suspense tend to use this later method.  They leave clues and hints but in the end nothing is made definite until revealed to the character.

Other novels and my personal preference as a reader and a writer is to reveal at least some of the secrets but either none or most of the characters do not know the truth.  While this does lessen the suspense (and is probably not the preferred method for a mystery) it does allow later events to be seen in a different light than the characters are seeing things.

If Jen is bemoaning that she never got to raise children to John, who is secretly her child and you know this, it makes the whole speech different.  If John is aware of this, and responds back but does not reveal the secret, each words he says may have two meanings.  One of them is the way she is perceiving things and the other comes from his additional knowledge of the truth.  Personally, I love that method much more.

This of course does not have to be used in just soap opera settings, and can help add danger to a scene if you know that person’s partner is really the killer, or they just handed their house key to the person who wants to take them down.  Dramatic Irony can get you yelling at the characters in a book like almost nothing else, and I like things that add that level of caring about what happens.

The other reason I prefer Dramatic Irony is that if in most of the novel a lot of the big questions remain secrets to the reader, they may become lost, confused, or bored.  Dramatic Irony should give enough information to hook interest, but can often leave out key pieces of informaiton that makes the reader want to know more.  Being clued into a secret also helps the reader feel smarter than the characters without actually dumbing down the characters.  You might know what will happen if they stab someone with the magic dagger and they are not wearing a blue tunic, but you can’t fault the protagonist for not knowing since they were not in the mind of the antagonist two scenes ago.

Some people prefer the real impact of a secret that is carried for a long period of time and then is suddenly shown to characters and the readers at the same time, and prefer the shock value that has.  I honestly believe that in sci fi and fantasy novels (and to a lesser degree thrillers but not mysteries) it is good to have an honest combination of both, to give short term and long term ‘hooks’ to your readers.

As for other book related things I wanted to briefly talk about tags.  Amazon uses tags to help people find books that appropriately fit categories.  One of the issues with Indie books is with less original exposure, people at large are not sure if a book tag fits an appropriate book.  Here is a great thread on the Genre Underground Goodreads group page http://www.goodreads.com/topic/show/947198-a-sporting-game-of-tagging?type=topic#comment_53802172 to show some Indie authors some love.  They have links to their books and you can click on the suggested tags, and say that you agree with the tags. This has nothing to do with endorsement of a book, and is not a review or liking it, just letting people know what type of book it is so the right audience can find it.

My Poll today is NOT connected to what I mainly talked about, instead it is another one about the epic novel.  The results of the last poll have Conspiracy, Labyrinth. Paradise, and Island as showing as the top four options and I had one person tell me they had an issue clicking on Labyrinth, so I am giving them another vote for it.

Here are some titles I am thinking of, you can vote for more than one.  If you have other ideas, please put something in the comments.  Like last time for my First novel, I am not guaranteeing to take the vote as the new name for the novel, but this helps me gauge what my readers like.  Please vote as to which titles makes you most want to either pick it up or at least read the description.  Oh and the Paradise Conspiracy is not a choice because I already looked it up and it’s taken 🙂  Depending upon if there are a few I like and others like too, I may do a final poll on this later.


1)Labyrinthine Conspiracy

2)The Labyrinth Conspiracy

3)Conspiracy of Mandatory Paradise

4)Island of the Labyrinth

5)Paradise by Conspiracy

6)Island Paradise of Conspiracy

7)Massacre in Paradise

8)Isolation Conspiracy

As for other news:

Updates – The epic novel is 80% through it’s current editor (the book was partially edited beforehand but that was a while ago, and the focus was not on line editing in the past like it is now).  Soon it will be passed to another editor to copy edit.  I expect this novel to have at least two new full passes of editing, and possibly three, with a particular focus on copy/line editing since it had more thorough overall story editing in the past.

The sequel to Fall of House Nemeni is about 25% through the rough draft, ie the bulk of the writing.

As for a world tid bit:

Long ago the House Nemeni made clockwork guards amongst their other clockwork marvels. These guards were amazing as they could react as if alive, and were unbribeable and never slept.  Occasionally though, something would happen and they would slaughter people without warning.  Eventually the Church issued an edict that the brass guards (also known as golems) were being possessed by Firesouls and their use was forbidden.  By the time this happened House Nemeni had transitioned to a banking house, and this edict did not harm them.

Now golems are the things of children’s tales and warnings.  If you do not listen to your parents a firesoul may make a golem appear in your room, and crush you in your sleep, or so it is said.  Only scholars with large libraries seem to remember how widespread and how powerful they truly once were.


About mdkenning

E-book clockpunk fantasy author View all posts by mdkenning

4 responses to “Dramatic Irony vs Suspense

  • SuperCraftifFragilistic

    I love Labyrinthine Conspiracy and especially “Island of the Labyrinth”. There is something about a place being an island that makes in more interesting, and of course labyrinth is just an awesome word.

    I agree with you about dramatic irony… maybe part of the reason I’m not so into mystery novels is because they go on for so long with me feeling clueless and I get bored.

    • mdkenning

      I personally lean towards something with the “labyrinth” word or variation thereof because it fits so well, but I am giving the other options a good look in case any of them seem to really “click” more with readers.

  • amkenning

    Of those as Written? The Labyrinth Conspiracy. But better than that would be just straight up Mandatory Paradise (nix the conspiracy of).

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