Imagination manipulation is the workplace of a writer. Manipulation is of particular importance in mystery or crime fiction. The aim of crime fiction is to give all the information to solve the offence while leaving the reader unaware of the solution until the end when it should come as a surprise.
Many techniques can be used to impart information when it is unimportant. When an author looks at each word’s purpose, else if it is not essential, removes it from the novel. Every single word is important in a story.
Submitting my short story to the workshop, I received comments where women thought the protagonist was female and men thought the protagonist was male. You don’t have to explain everything. My favourite book, which I still have from the 1980s is Shogun. Obviously, a lot of the names are Japanese and unpronounceable to me. So, I saw the name, recognised the shape of the word and just referred to them as the first letter and carried on reading.
Someone reading a story brings that story into their own world where they modify it and creates images of the characters, who they are, what they look like, etc. As a writer, you don’t need to go into detail about every person, every scene, especially in a short story and only if that characteristic is relevant to the plot.
I am actually getting to like short stories now. You just get right into the action and strng the reader along.
In a lot of the courses I have done in writing, I have been told, I’m waffling and describing too much. At the time I thought, “Well, War and Peace could be written on the side of an A4 page, never mind the hundreds of pages. What’s going on?” Now I understand, you are giving the reader a scenario with characters, and in a lot of situations like the short story, that’s all you need as they will create the rest in their imagination.
Imagination is a very powerful sense. There should, in all honesty, be six sences—vision, hearing, feel, taste, smell and imagination. The writer narrows down the genre and is aware of what they want and expect. The author is aware of where the genre particular reader’s imagination will take them. In crime fiction, the story must make the solution a surprise until the climax of the story. This is where the writer must manipulate the reader’s imagination. Give really relevant information along with weak stuff or just after other big scenes where there is action, as the reader will be concentrating on what just happened, and vice versa. End of chapters is a good place as the reader may be thinking, “Only one page left in this chapter.” I did enjoy playing with people’s imagination in my short story and then twisting them round at the end. I may produce more short stories as my novel sends me out of my mind.