Writing Prompt: The Reader Knows

Written by Emily Harstone | December 5, 2013

Most of Shakespeare’s plays hinge on the fact that the audience knows more than the characters. In Romeo and Juliet we know that Juliet is not actually dead, even though Romeo takes his own life believing that she is already dead. In the Twelfth Night we know who is a male pretending to be a female and who is a female pretending to be a male, even if most other characters don’t seem to have a clue.

Many authors rely on this technique. It easily creates humor and tension in stories. For this writing exercise we are going to do that for our readers. Write about a theft, the theft is an inside job. For example, a husband stole something from his wife, or a wife stole something from her husband. The exact details are up to you.

When you write this make sure that the reader knows who stole what, but that all the other characters, except the thief, haven’t a clue what is going on. If there are very few characters, perhaps only the husband and the wife, the story will most likely be more humorous, but it ultimately depends on what was stolen.

If the item is something trivial like a list, cookies, or a piece of stage jewelry, it will most likely be a comedic story. But if the item was something of value, like a rare antique, a family heirloom, or a love letter, the stakes are altered entirely.

Have fun coming up with the details, and exploring this new situation.