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leaving room for the reader

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Hey ya'll, I'm interested in reading/learning more about "leaving room for the reader" -- providing just the right amount of info, and not too much. Found this interesting post by David:

http://nerdybookclub.wordpress.com/2012/03/13/more-than-white-space-leaving-room-for-the-reader/

...but his primary example is Star Wars, and I'd love to have a few more books in addition to his to consult. Does anyone have suggestions for MG or YA that you feel does a good job of being intriguing without being confusing?? TIA!
#1 - August 25, 2013, 01:32 PM
The Farwalker Trilogy
The Humming of Numbers
Reality Leak

www.jonisensel.com

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HOW I LIVE NOW by Meg Rosoff instantly comes to mind. It's GENIUS at letting the reader fill in the blanks.
#2 - August 25, 2013, 04:04 PM

Joni! You're back!

How about Bunce's Liar's Moon? You get dropped into a fantasy world in the middle of chase scene and have to piece together the details of the setting while the action's running.

Also LIAR by Larbalestier. You definitely have to be on your toes for that one.
#3 - August 25, 2013, 04:36 PM
The Echo Room (Tor Teen, 2018)
Where Futures End (Penguin, 2016)
www.parkerpeevyhouse.com

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I think Ann Dee Ellis does this amazingly well ... I've read "Everything is Fine" and "This is what I Did" a couple of years ago and keep meaning to check them out and re-read them again.
#4 - August 25, 2013, 06:47 PM
The Safest Lie in stores now
The End of the Line - VOYA Top Shelf & YALSA Quick Pick
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FB/twtr/Tmblr AngelaCerrito

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I don't think there's necessarily a right amount of room left for the reader. I read David's first novel and loved it. So much fun! But it is more plot-driven than character-driven. I imagine there could have been more internal thought, etc., which may have slowed the pacing and turned off readers who love action, but pleased readers who loved character-based novels. I loved How I Live Now, but have heard some criticize it for lacking details about the war and the time period. I loved the award-winning YA novel Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe. It really got into the protagonist's head, back story, etc. But I imagine some readers who love fast-paced, plot-driven fiction wouldn't like it. 
#5 - August 26, 2013, 09:18 AM
Author of SILVER PONY RANCH and ZEKE MEEKS series

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I don't think there's necessarily a right amount of room left for the reader. I read David's first novel and loved it. So much fun! But it is more plot-driven than character-driven. I imagine there could have been more internal thought, etc., which may have slowed the pacing and turned off readers who love action, but pleased readers who loved character-based novels. I loved How I Live Now, but have heard some criticize it for lacking details about the war and the time period. I loved the award-winning YA novel Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe. It really got into the protagonist's head, back story, etc. But I imagine some readers who love fast-paced, plot-driven fiction wouldn't like it. 

Oh, I absolutely agree there's no one "right" amount of space for the reader to fill in! It depends a lot on what sort of book you want to write. (I also think that while tere's no hard and fast rule, on average, MG readers are a bit less tolerant of "leaving room.") I gave How I Live Now as an example of a book where the author clearly made a creative decision to leave a ton of open spaces, and did it in a way that ended up being lovely and interesting rather than a muddle. But that same technique would be disastrous for a different type of story or writing style. It all depends.

Oh, and I thought of another example you could study, Joni -- SPEAK by Laurie Halse Anderson. We spend most of the book not knowing why the main character is often unable to speak. (If you haven't already read it or had it spoiler-ed for you, don't read any reviews! It's so much more powerful not knowing.)

And in a very different way, WHEN YOU REACH ME does this. You're kind of dropped into the middle of a puzzle. That's one of the few MG examples I an think of.
#6 - August 26, 2013, 10:06 AM

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The ending of THE GIVER is left open. (She did write sequels, but I think they came much later.)
In SOMEDAY THIS PAIN WILL BE USEFUL TO YOU, the protagonist is dealing with some post-9/11 trauma, but 9/11 itself is barely mentioned in an explicit way. There are subtle clues that you have to pick up on.
MOCKINGJAY left some open questions and also left things that readers had to figure out for themselves, especially with respect to the political plots at the end. The actions of Gale, Katniss, and Haymitch require some interpretation by the reader.
There are also probably plenty of ghost stories with a "Was it really a ghost or just a figment of my imagination?" bent,  a la THE TURN OF THE SCREW, but I'm blanking at the moment.
#7 - August 30, 2013, 05:05 PM
Jennifer R. Hubbard
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Loner in the Garret: A Writer's Companion
Until It Hurts to Stop
Try Not to Breathe
The Secret Year

I love stories that just drop you in like that.
I immediately thought of FEED by M.T. Anderson.
I was disorientated at first, but I loved that he trusted us enough as readers to be intelligent enough to figure things out.  :)
#8 - August 30, 2013, 07:39 PM
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Less can be so much more, a statement like, "She was the kind of girl who lived for Friday nights." Rather than telling me how tall she is and what color hair she's got. It let's me frame a picture on my own--I bet you did the same thing. :)

But I stink at book rec's, sorry.
#9 - August 30, 2013, 07:53 PM
"The mind is everything. What you think, you become." ~Buddha   

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Jaclyn Moriarty's A CORNER OF WHITE just throws you in at the beginning. I confess it took me a while to warm to it because it left SO much to the reader, but by the end I was hooked. :)

I do think there's a large dollop of subjectivity in this. Some people love a spare beginning, and others like a bit more to attach to. And it depends on the genre as well, I suppose...
#10 - August 30, 2013, 08:03 PM

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Thanks, all! I just finished Liar and loved it; will look forward to getting through more of your suggestions.
#11 - September 05, 2013, 08:02 PM
The Farwalker Trilogy
The Humming of Numbers
Reality Leak

www.jonisensel.com

Thanks, all! I just finished Liar and loved it; will look forward to getting through more of your suggestions.

I'm glad you liked it. It definitely sticks with you for a while after you read it.
#12 - September 06, 2013, 07:56 AM
The Echo Room (Tor Teen, 2018)
Where Futures End (Penguin, 2016)
www.parkerpeevyhouse.com

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