Confusion Isn't Mystery

I've got a guest post up at the Zafris-Kothari Novel Workshop blog. Here's the beginning of the post:

For years I’ve been giving my fiction-writing students an exercise about ambiguity, mystery, and confusion. I came up with this exercise because I kept seeing drafts in which the students withheld critical information readers needed in order to understand the story that was being told. 

First, I give students these paragraphs to examine:

Mark looked around him. The room was cold. White. There were machines hooked to him. They beeped. He felt horrible. Absolutely horrible. Lots of parts of his body hurt. He was in pain from what had happened. There was no one in the room but him. No one was visiting. Or maybe they all were dead. 

This aloneness left him time to think. He thought about a lot of things. He thought about what had happened. He thought and thought, his mind racing, images flooding through his mind. He couldn’t remember very much, but he remembered enough. 

He looked at the paintings on the wall. They were generic paintings of flowers. He felt the rough blanket that covered him. It was an okay blanket because it was warm enough. He liked his down comforter at home better, though. He looked at the pitcher of water by his bedside. It was beige and he thought the water inside might be cold. He wasn’t sure, though; he hadn’t had any water yet. Maybe he would have a drink. Maybe he wouldn’t. Only time would tell.

To read the rest of the post, click here.

And to learn more about this unique workshop (where writers get to workshop 200 pages of a novel), click here.