Monday, January 16, 2012

Red Herrings

I love mysteries. There is just something about solving a puzzle that I enjoy. I like the ones with lots of characters, like in the Agatha Christie books. She introduces many people quickly. I spend a bit of time getting these people in my brain. And then in the stories, I try to remember all of the events. When the book is finished, I can see where all of the information that was thrown at you fits in place. That is what usually happens.

Sometimes, the author throws in red herrings. They will have several similar unusual looking characters. Sometimes the author clears up every one of them and I feel satisfied. She got me and I feel silly I fell for that one, but it was cleverly done.

What I find too often and it truly bothers me is running themes that are never used. And if the author doesn't mention them, I feel betrayed. It's one thing to add lots of possible courses for the outcome, it's another to fail to let the reader in on how these elements fit in with the story, especially the ending. Well, I'm off my soapbox now. I will continue to read these stories, because just recently, I figured out not one, but two plot twists in a novel.

How about you? I know a lot of you are romance readers. Do unfinished plot elements bother you? Am I taking this too seriously? Or are you also a puzzle person and love all the pieces at least on the table?


  1. I want all the pieces to be there! I hate it when there are unfinished plot elements.

  2. Unfinished elements bother me too. I don't linger long over them, but I do turn them over in my mind sometimes and wonder what could have been done. I've heard it said that everything in a book must have a reason to be there. Wise words, I'm thinking!

    Thanks for stopping by Susan's blog to see my guest post today. I appreciate your kind words and support!

    Thanks and blessings,

  3. If I'm thrown something at the last minute for no reason then I do get disappointed. I like to have a chance a solving it. :O)

  4. Urgent prayer request at Arise 2 Write and All Gods Creatures.

  5. I'm with you, Nancy. I hate it when a thread is introduced, but never tied up at the end. If I ever write a novel, I will either tie or snip every last one!

    We are A.C. fans, too.

  6. If I know there will be a sequel to the story, an unfinished thread won't bother me.

    I enjoy when an author gives clues along the way. I'm reading a book now where she gave little tidbits, but I totally missed them. Wow! I love it when an author can keep me in the dark until the end.

  7. Oh yes, I do know what you mean. So if you've got room on the soapbox, I'll join you for a moment.

    I, too, have often pondered about the bits and pieces authors have in the story that didn't seem to have a reason. I'd read it over to see if I missed something along the way. Sometimes I had, but other times, it just seemed to be in there for no reason.

    Over the years and years of me being an avid reader, I've come to realize that truly every word in a novel needs to be there for a reason. Otherwise get rid of it. It's not for filler, or to take the reader down some garden path without letting her return to the ending with a feeling that all the pieces fit in some way, even if we couldn't see it at the first.

    In sequels there may be 'unfinished' threads that will be picked up in the next book, but even then the threads in this story ought to create some kind of satisfactory wrap up.

    BTW, Agatha Christie continues to be my fav mystery writer.

  8. I definitely like ALL loose ends tied up, neatly! The only exception would be as your other commenters mentioned, if there is a sequel coming along soon.