Anonymous asked in Arts & HumanitiesBooks & Authors · 4 weeks ago

What are your thoughts on misdirecting a reader in the opening?

I'm writing a short story about a young man who is hunting a deer, and opens with him aiming at the deer.  But it is written as to deliberately lead the reader to assume he is about to kill a woman:

The rifle, a Browning Composite Stalker 0.243 magnum, was sleek, jet black and new. Soon, he hoped, it would be lethal. With painstaking stealth and unhurried deliberation, he raised the barrel in the direction of his mark. God, she was beautiful. He almost hated to kill her. Almost, but not quite.  Patiently, he maneuvered the barrel to get the mark in the crosshairs. His finger caressed the trigger. He had to force himself to slow down, to take his time.  Almost there, but not quite, he told himself.  This would be worth waiting a few more seconds. 

At then end of the next paragraph you realize that it was a doe all along. 

So what are your thoughts of misdirecting a reader.  Would you be annoyed when you realized it was a doe in his crosshairs and not a beautiful woman?

3 Answers

  • 4 weeks ago

    I see no misdirection. If your aim (no pun intended...... or is there?) is to convince everyone you're a creepy gun-nut you've succeeded admirably. Hope this helped, and gun control NOW.

  • Amber
    Lv 5
    4 weeks ago

    There is a difference between misdirection (as you've done) and conning the reader. What you have is fine, especially if the misdirection is cleared up fairly quickly and not carried on throughout an entire novel which out clues.

    I read a novel a while back about a serial killer. It was a whodunit. you got occasional chapters from the point of view of the killer (no name revealed obviously) but was referred to as a "she". So all through the novel you're looking for a female suspect who the agent has on their list. Turns out it was a man who was a transvestite. How was anyone meant to guess whodunit? The reader had no chance. And no clues were given to suggest this. It wasn't a cool twist just really annoying. It could have been cool if done correctly.  

  • Speed
    Lv 7
    4 weeks ago

    I think this works, and you don't go on so long the reader feels that you cheated them, disguising what's really going on.

    ("But not quite" repeats twice. Three is deliberate, two just feels off.)

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