This week: Smoke and mirrors Edited by: Arakun the Twisted Raccoon
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|Quote for the week: Losing an illusion makes you wiser than finding a truth.|
|Have you ever watched a stage magician perform, and wonder how he performed his tricks? You know that the beautiful assistant couldn't have really vanished before your eyes, but it sure seemed as if she did, right? |
While few magicians will ever reveal exactly how they perform their illusions, it often comes down to either concealment or misdirection. Traditional devices of concealment or misdirection include smoke and mirrors.
Smoke is a special effect that adds drama to a magician's performance, but is also a method of concealing what is really happening on the stage. When a person appears to vanish in a puff of smoke, the smoke obscures the activity of stage hands and assistants as they move objects, open trap doors, or leave the stage. Any loud noise that accompanies the puff of smoke also serves to conceal sounds the crew might make as they preform the illusion.
Strategically placed mirrors confuse the audience and misdirect their attention. Events that appear to be taking place on one part of the stage might actually be a reflection of something that is happening on another part. Mirrored walls might also cause the performance area to appear bigger than its true dimensions. Special effects mirrors, such as those in a carnival fun house, can distort the sizes and shapes of objects.
Some times a mystery writer needs to create illusions with verbal smoke and mirrors. While a stage magician never wants audiences to be able to figure out how he performs his illusions, a good mystery writer needs to leave clues for the readers. The clues need to be presented in such a way that the reader has a chance to figure out the solution without being too obvious. Like a magician, the writer can do this by using concealment and misdirection.
Here are some ways of creating a smoke screen:
Physically hiding objects (or bodies!)
Information in code or an encrypted computer file.
Conditions that make it hard to see. Here you might include a literal smoke screen, darkness, heavy rain, or snow.
Misdirection is a little trickier. The information must be visible, but presented in such a way that it blends in to the background or seems unimportant. Here are some examples:
An ever present, but seemingly harmless character turns out to be guilty. Examples include service personnel, city employees, elderly neighbors, overly helpful witnesses, or even children. Alternately, you could have a character who seems very questionable actually be innocent.
A villain might cause a disturbance in one area to distract the police, and then carry out his crime in another area.
A missing object might be hidden in plain sight. Thieves might be removing stolen goods in wheelbarrows filled with trash for example.
Something to try: Write a mystery story in which the criminal is a master at deceiving or misdirecting investigators.
When you're retired and the world is coming to an end...
#2065557 by Chris24
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|Question for next time: What mystery story's solution surprised you the most?|
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