Monday, May 24, 2010

The Big Reveal

*and no, I'm not writing a review of the Lost finale. I actually didn't even watch it.

Today I'm writing about a type of scene that we come across a lot in YA fiction, particularly YA Fantasy and Paranormal. It's a scene that I have just finished rewriting for the tenth or maybe fifteenth time in my own WiP. I'm talking about . . .

The Big Reveal Scene

You know the type. The scene where Main Character is told that she has Fill In the Blank Power. Or that she's actually a Fill In the Blank Paranormal/Fantasy Creature.

Or when Main Character's gloriously Hot New Crush reveals that he is actually Fill In the Blank Paranormal/Fantasy Creature. Or that he has Fill In the Blank Power.

These scenes are inevitable in any story where the fantastical and paranormal are thrown into a real world setting. And a lot can ride on them. Haven't we all read a book where we thought, sheesh, she accepted that pretty easily. Or, hello when is she going to just freaking accept that this isn't a dream?!

In my slaving over my own Big Reveal Scene in my WiP, I've tried to pinpoint exactly what makes these scenes work. Here's my rough list:

This is the vital ingredient, and the most vague concept. When faced with a startling truth, characters have to struggle with accepting it. Especially if this fact challenges their concept of reality.
However no reader wants to slog through twelve chapters of the Main Characters refusing to believe what is right in front of their eyes. It just gets old. Frankly, I think readers want to move along as quickly as realistically possible. Realistic being the operative word.

2.Strong Characters
This seems like a no-brainer. You need this in any story. True. However I do think that strong characters are vital in pulling off the Big Reveal Scene (BRS.) If you don't have well defined characters, the risk is that you will fall into the dreaded Cliche Reactions. Readers are smart. If they feel like your character "would never act that way" than you risk losing them.

Ideally, your BRS will breeze by without a wince because your characters are reacting exactly how they "really would." Know what I mean?

3.Mix it up a Little
So many times, the BRS are two talking heads in a room. All necessary info is shared. Reactions are made. Then a form of acceptance. End Scene.

If you think about it, this moment has the potential to be very exciting. This is a chance to show us exactly what Fill in the Blank Power/Fill in the Blank Paranormal creature can do. Dazzle and distract us. We might be more forgiving of any lack in the actual dialogue. (Maybe. I'm a pretty easy going reader. Others demand perfection. Just something to keep in mind. No pressure . . .)

So there's my rough list. I know there are many more points you could add to it. What do you think? Have you ever written a BRS? How did you pull it off? Any tips? (Because, frankly, I feel like my WiP's BRS is still not just right.) Please do share.


Tere Kirkland said...

Wow, I just realized I have a lot of these in my novel. I hope I'm doing them justice.

This post has given me a lot to think about, thanks!

Lady Glamis said...

Wow, this is interesting. I never thought of The Big Reveal in this way before. I usually think of it as more of a climax at the end of a story. I like what you're talking about here, though. I've done this to an extent in my Cinders novella where my MC finds out something the readers didn't even really expect. The scene came easily, so I hope it's done well, as you imply here. Yay!

Lady Glamis said...

Oh, it's nice to see you here, by the way. :)

Jessie Oliveros said...

The big reveal I wrote into my rough draft was awful. I hope I do it better this time around. I'm glad you didn't give up on blogland for good.

Renee Collins said...

Tere-They are hard! This novel is the first time I've had one and I've really struggled with it. But really, I think they're not too bad. You just have to be aware I guess.

Michelle-You know sometimes it does come naturally, I think. Sometimes it just fits in perfectly with the plot. And sometimes it takes more work. That's my situation. :)

Jessie-Yeah, my first round of my BRS in my rough draft was bad—choppy, cliche, melodramatic. But the good news is, I think once you get the suck out of your system, the next try is significantly better. :) Good luck with yours!

Natalie said...

I have a really hard time with big reveal scenes! I had a scene in my last manuscript where the MCs found out that a guy they thought was good was actually not good and was trying to kill them. It took me about 500 rewrites to make it work. I'm struggling with a similar scene in my current WIP. I have a feeling I'll be rewriting a lot.

Emily Hendricks said...

When I wrote my BR in my WIP - which is a YA - my fiance found me in a corner of the couch staring at the screen on my laptop. I had written what really was going on with my MC - her secret - and when I was done all I could think was "damn, I did NOT see that one coming."

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