Stories keep secrets, to reveal them when they will.

When could you, should you, tip your reader that a momentous event is coming? How much clue is permissible? How much should you let a reader in on what’s about to happen? How much credit do you give your reader for seeing the breadcrumbs you’re dropping on the trail?

Don’t look for an answer here. I have no rules, only observations.

There is no one right way.

The hint-of-what’s-coming is a kind of literary foreplay. As that, it can be exquisitely executed or clumsily so. A breath on a receptive surface. A delicate touch. When the intention is suggested, it’s pretty clear: The writer is announcing a commitment to the main event ahead. Done well, the reader should be consumed with thoughts of what’s coming. The foreplay has the forecast of the conclusion built into it.

This is not to say that surprise not longer has its uses (I said there’s no one right way, didn’t I?). The surprise that comes out of left field will always be as much a delight to the writer as to the reader. It’s a wakeup jolt, in the nicest possible way. It’s the surprise that makes us keep reading.

Right now, I’m leaning toward the “watch this, it’s coming” approach. Is that the right one? Don’t know. Tomorrow I could change my mind. Or the day after tomorrow. Right now, I’m all about the foreplay. That little touch, the small, shy look. And off we go.

The wiggle in the hat where the rabbit is waiting, the hint of silk up the sleeve…the lifting of the lid to offer a peek into a future-in-the-works, the intention, the way the trick is done…there’s something magical about that. Tomorrow, who knows?

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