(I was going to put clues all through today's post encouraging you aspiring novelists to enter our "Audience with an Agent" contest. But I need to tell you plainly: In today's precarious publishing atmosphere, if you can enter a contest where concerned cheerleader-type authors (that's us at NovelMatters) will vet your winning novel before a top agent -- you should just do it!)
As Katy’s stimulating post on Wednesday demonstrated, people love the challenge of a mystery, and they like being led down all manner of misleading paths if they’re rewarded with a good surprise at the end.
We also have a fascination with clues and messages hidden in media. Remember all the uproar over the rumor that “Paul is dead,” supposedly a hidden message in a Beatles album—if you played it backwards? And just this week Carly Simon revealed (also via a “backwards” recording) the identity of the man about whom she sang, “You’re so vain, you probably think this song is about you.”
Other creative people have done this too: Al Hirshfield hid his daughter’s name, Nina, in his drawings, Alfred Hitchcock inserted cameos of himself in his films, and computer programmers put in “easter egg” messages in games and other programs. Fans find great delight in locating such elements.
Novelists and other writers include hidden elements in their writing. James Joyce paralleled the Odyssey in one of his books. And the Bible uses structural techniques that often go over the heads of modern readers, such as the acrostics that are clearly marked with Hebrew letters in Psalm 119 and not marked in eight other psalms (9-10; 25; 34; 37; 111; 112; and 145.)
Recently I used an ancient technique known as chiasmus in my WIP (chiasmus is a list that appears forward and then backward.) The point of any “hidden” element is that it doesn’t draw attention to itself, but brings delight or satisfaction when it’s discovered.
Have you discovered what you believe to be an intentionally “hidden” element or structure in a novel? Anybody out there brave enough to have written such a hidden aspect into your own work?