Authors, Writers, Publishers, and Book Readers

I don't like the technique at all. I've heard arguments that you shouldn't tie up every loose end, that a writer should lend an air of mystery to a book or leave questions hanging. That you're insulting your reader's intelligence if you feel the need to explain every tiny detail.

True or not?

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My vote would be "untrue". I don't want to have to puzzle over unanswered questions. I like my reading material to be all neatly wound up in the closing pages. I feel I've been let down when a book doesn't fill in all the blanks.

Glad I found this discussion thread.


I too have a problem with the typical cliffhanger that never makes it off the cliff or to the next series. As I watch the new array of television shows that operate on this theory, I am angered thatso many shows get cancelled without answering fundamental questions about their characters. The same would fly with books. If basic questions are not answered, the book becomes dull and long-winded, not having a purpose after a while.

As a dungeon master, I leave many things unsaid or implied. However, the people I play with are now utterly convinced that Crimson Red is a highly evolved ghost and not a living being.

They're pretty close, Crimson Red is actually a phantasm, meaning she is a living illusion. She exists, but barely. But when I leave those coattails fluttering with nothing to tie them down, they come up with some interesting theories.

They've not realized Limu D'zea's parentage however even though it should be quite obvious who her father is.

I think it's about a balance — you can't have a hard & fast rule for this, the piece itself should dictate how much should be explained. I see a lot of art and films where they simply explain too much, leaving nothing to the imagination, and it makes me bored and disinterested if things are explained away and I have nothing left to think about.


On the other hand, you have to have at least a basic foundation of framework and details to create the interest and give people enough to follow, so they don't get confused.


I write about the former and did a video on this topic, which I have explored a bit. You can see the 5-minute talk I did on 'The Framework for Mystery' here, and the articles I wrote here. They are in-context of art and I wrote them for a Christian philosophy website, but the principles are 100% transferrable to all creative media, such as writing. In fact, in the video, I compare two books as examples.


Cheers guys.

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