I’ve mentioned before that a lot of the agents who I follow say that you have to be able to hook your reader from the first sentence.
This is something I’ve struggled with sometimes because I’m always so concerned about giving something away. I want to keep the mystery alive and all that. No spoilers! Nothing to ruin the twists and turns!
Blah blah blah.
Recently I was going back through some of my old children’s books and I came across one that was always a favorite, The Monster at the End of This Book, by Jon Stone and Mike Smollin.
Before even opening the book, I knew the ending. There was a monster there waiting for me. Still, I went and picked it up. The entire story is a reminder of this initial warning. There is a monster at the end of the book. They told me in the clearest way possible what to expect and they delivered.
And somehow they managed to surprise me anyway.
So, I guess spoilers aren’t necessarily all bad. I think the trick is to write like I’m performing a magic trick. First, you tell the audience what you’re going to do (“I shall now make this marmoset disappear!”) and then you do it (*marmoset goes poof*). It’s that simple. You just have to make sure that the manner in which you make that marmoset vanish is unexpected.