Don't have POV characters lie to the audience

One practice that ruins any otherwise thrilling scene it touches is having the protagonist keep secrets from the audience so that the audience experiences an illusion of tension where there isn't any from the protagonist's perspective. Sometimes, the writer will flash back to the scene where they received the crucial information afterward.

This practice doesn't even solve the problem it intends to solve. As soon as a self-respecting audience sees the reveal, they feel betrayed because not only can they no longer trust the writer, they can't even trust the protagonist. How are we supposed to be invested in a story when we know we've been lied to about what's happening in it?

Offending examples include Solo: A Star Wars Story and Attack on Titan.

Star Wars review

Attack on Titan review

Sometimes the protagonist comes up with a plan and then executes it in the next scene, and the writer doesn't want to have them explain their plan when they come up with it because then the next scene will be boring as we watch events unfold exactly as we were told they were. That's fine. Having the protagonist say they have a plan and then execute it without explaining it is fine. Having the protagonist clearly signal to the audience that they *don't have* a plan and feel cornered by the villain, and then when the audience is on the edge of their seats waiting to see how they'll survive, reveal that they saw it all coming all along and actually have the villain cornered, is audience betrayal.


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