Leaving some mystery unrevealed

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Doaa Wael
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Leaving some mystery unrevealed

Post by Doaa Wael » 28 Sep 2017, 18:54

In some fictional or fantasy stories, sometimes the element of "Mystery/ odd, attention-grabbing occurrences" can be used to build up suspense although that piece of hook is not directly relevant to the plot. Some readers say that not justifying this mystery piece, later on, can be frustrating while others say it is okay to leave some mystery unaddressed and unresolved. What are your views on this?
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Post by KS Crooks » 29 Sep 2017, 20:49

I think it's fine to leave a little mystery. The main characters can't always discover all the answers, so to for the reader. A left behind mystery can also be an indication of a pending sequel.

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Post by anacmg9211 » 29 Sep 2017, 22:38

I think if there will be a sequel then that's fine, but finishing a book with no intents of continuing on and leaving a mystery unresolved? That would frustrate me a lot, I don't like loose strings. I appreciate more having answers and knowing what happened with everyone. I'm not saying books that end up with unresolved things are bad though, they're just not what I prefer :)
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Post by BoyLazy » 30 Sep 2017, 11:49

It's good if the second part is worth reading. Otherwise it's often irritating.
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Post by Doaa Wael » 01 Oct 2017, 07:11

BoyLazy wrote:It's good if the second part is worth reading. Otherwise, it's often irritating.
what if the mystery was something minor, like not related to the ending of the book or the direction of the plot

for example: The character has powers but with one particular person, she was unable to use it, would it be annoying if it was untold WHY she couldn't use it, because the main reveal here was that she was unable to use it (which was hidden at first), will failing to say why she couldn't use it, annoy the reader?

what about ending the book with a cliffhanger, like introducing a figure/character but not really saying who he is or how he entered the character's life?
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Post by BoyLazy » 01 Oct 2017, 07:59

Doaa Wael wrote:
BoyLazy wrote:It's good if the second part is worth reading. Otherwise, it's often irritating.
what if the mystery was something minor, like not related to the ending of the book or the direction of the plot

for example: The character has powers but with one particular person, she was unable to use it, would it be annoying if it was untold WHY she couldn't use it, because the main reveal here was that she was unable to use it (which was hidden at first), will failing to say why she couldn't use it, annoy the reader?

what about ending the book with a cliffhanger, like introducing a figure/character but not really saying who he is or how he entered the character's life?
Small mysteries are fine for me. Sometimes it go unnoticed. Make sure it stays in mind and it's pleasant.
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Post by Doaa Wael » 01 Oct 2017, 08:04

[/quote]
Small mysteries are fine for me. Sometimes it go unnoticed. Make sure it stays in mind and it's pleasant.[/quote]


Thank you! Great point about it going unannounced!
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Post by Brandi Noelle » 26 Oct 2017, 14:38

anacmg9211 wrote:I think if there will be a sequel then that's fine, but finishing a book with no intents of continuing on and leaving a mystery unresolved? That would frustrate me a lot, I don't like loose strings. I appreciate more having answers and knowing what happened with everyone. I'm not saying books that end up with unresolved things are bad though, they're just not what I prefer :)
I agree, if there is a sequel in the works, a little unsolved mystery is necessary to provide the proper cliffhanger and leave the reader begging for more. But, in a single novel, it always frustrates me. Especially, if the mystery then looks like a subplot thrown in purely to give a sinking plot a boost in substance. I have read a couple of books recently where the mystery was added near the end, out of the blue, and then made to just drift away again as though illustrating it's absolutely irrelevance. If the characters don't care enough about their own story to give it center stage, then there is no story to tell.

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Post by Sushan » 19 Jun 2018, 14:04

leaving mystery unrevealed will be frustrating from the reader's side. Yet, trying to solve all the mystery will be frustrating to the author. So, I think keeping some parts unrevealed is okay
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Post by echoesofmj » 28 Jun 2018, 10:53

I think that it is okay to leave some mystery unresolved. That leaves room for the readers to fill in. They get the big part resolved, and then small matters, I think they can be left unaddressed. It does leave mystery, and while as a reader, this infuriates me to no end sometimes because I just want to know for sure what is going to happen, as a writer, I absolutely love to do it. (Probably because I know how that matter would be resolved if I were to write the scene.)

I think that you have to leave some room for the reader to participate into the story, and that is a way to do it.

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Post by DATo » 10 Aug 2018, 04:32

Alfred Hitchcock referred to what you are talking about as a "McGuffin". An example of this would be what was in the briefcase in the movie Pulp Fiction. It is enough to know that whatever is in the briefcase is valuable, but it is not important that the audience know what it is.

In my favorite movie, The Red Violin, there are many instances of the audience not knowing what happens to some of the characters. The movie is told in many chapters in which the history of the violin is being related. The audience tends to focus on the characters in possession of the violin and becomes involved in their personal stories, but once the future fate of the violin is determined (relative to their involvement with it) the story moves on to the next chapter in history thus leaving the viewer to wonder what happened to the people and the circumstances in which they were involved. This is the writer's way of reminding the viewer that the main character is the violin, not the people. As a device I thought it really worked well and added an eerily mysterious quality to an already eerie and mysterious story.
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Post by clint_csperry-org » 21 Jul 2019, 08:59

It is my contention that every question posed in writing a story does not need to be answered. Only those directly related to the characters and the plot do. Take care not to put too many of those unrelated questions in as it can dilute the plot you wish to convey. A very good use for those unresolved questions is to write a sequel that will aim to answer some of them.

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Post by Inkroverts » 28 Sep 2019, 19:58

I think it depends on what kind of mystery that's left unsolved.
I've read Island Games by Caleb Boyer, which is a story about two boys being placed on a foreign island for unknown reasons. It dropped some hints about an experiment and laboratory, but nothing more than that even after the ending.
It's an entire conspiracy left to the readers' interpretation! I think it's a bit too much to leave it unsolved.
But sometimes I read stories about characters achieving an ultimate goal, but may risk sacrificing their lives. And at the end, readers are left to think whether they survived or not. I think it's okay to leave it unsolved because it doesn't affect the plot much, leave the readers thinking, and creates a potential for a second installment.

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Post by Victoria7716 » 07 Nov 2019, 16:45

Personally I prefer a story to have all mysteries resolved. however I have enjoyed some really good books where the mysteries have either a definite answer in a sequel or where the author points towards one answer but leaves the other as a possibility. That way I can think what if its this however the book suggests it might be that however its still unclear it leads me to rereading to see which I believe is more likely answer. Another reason to leave a mystery unresolved is because both answers to it are bad and it leaves the reader to decide which one is more likely or the worse one. For example suggesting that something might be caused by abuse but pointing towards the behavior occurring before the abuse leading the reader to wonder if the abuse was caused by the behavior of the character or if there was more abuse before that we dont know about that caused the issue and the additional abuse caused the issue to worsen. I'm not a writer but I am an avid reader and depending on the book either situation can be good.

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