I am currently writing a novel where I use "It was all just a dream" (IWAJAD) plot twist, just because the main character needs it to change his personality and train his power to save the world when he wake up.

But then, I heard that "IWAJAD" is too cliche and may ruin a good novel. Should I continue that plot twist or change it? If I shouldn't continue, why? If I should continue, what should I avoid to write a good plot twist and not ruin my novel? Why IWAJAD is a bad plot twist anyway?

  • 9
    Does the plot twist happen at the end of the story? Your explanation sounds like it might happen at the end of the prologue or something, and the rest of your novel is about the character saving the world. Also, does the character remember the dream?
    – Llewellyn
    Commented Oct 18, 2020 at 12:32
  • 28
    "It was all a dream" is generally unliked trope. People consume stories to get invested in them, if you have your reader invest themselves in a story and then effectivelly discard the story, they will be dissaponted. Commented Oct 18, 2020 at 23:00
  • 8
    I think the real key is the word "just" if it was all just a dream, then that devalues everything before it. However, if all you can say is "it was a dream," and the word "just" doesn't really feel like it fits there, then you can get away with it.
    – Cort Ammon
    Commented Oct 18, 2020 at 23:24
  • 25
    Anytime I read this sort of crap, I stop reading the author completely. I no longer trust them. "It was only a dream" is something lazy authors do because they can't find an ending.
    – NomadMaker
    Commented Oct 19, 2020 at 4:28
  • 5
    @NomadMaker - "Anytime I read this sort of crap, I stop reading the author completely." The book is hurled in the trash with some force. I hate this even worse that swords-and-sorcery. Commented Oct 19, 2020 at 13:00

14 Answers 14


To expand on what @Mary said, the reason people don't like the "it was all a dream" twist is that it cheapens what came before.

Imagine if you, the reader, have gone through all emotion of watching a protagonist lose their best friend, suffer through the grief and self-doubt that results from that loss, overcome it, and arise triumphant to beat the bad guy and honor their friend's memory... only to be told "Haha! Got ya, none of it ACTUALLY happened after all!" It makes you feel like you were tricked into wasting your emotions for no reason.

One of the best book series I ever read was ruined for me at the end through a gimmick like this. After all the heartbreak, building of friendships, struggles, and perseverance that the characters went through, at the end it was all "magically undone" just so one character could be with his girl who died a long time ago, and none of it had ever happened. Sure, there was a note in there about how they would "make sure" the two who became a good couple during the series would still end up together, but since what made their relationship so good was the things they went through together that brought them together, it felt like the foundation was taken from out from beneath their relationship, and therefore knowing they would still be together was not satisfying. And what about all the other characters who became better people and went through trials during the story? Magically hand waved to a state of bliss where none of that misery ever occurred. The whole ending felt cheap and unearned, and therefore, again, ultimately unsatisfying.

I'm not saying this kind of plot twist CAN'T be done well, just that you need to handle it VERY carefully, since a story hangs on the stakes presented by the plot and on the growth of the characters. It's very hard to "undo" a large part of the story without undoing the "progress" made in those things and making the reader feel tricked or unsatisfied. Proceed with caution!

  • 16
    @Ryan_L It's no less of a true story in our world, but much less of a true story in the world we just spent potentially thousands of pages getting to know
    – BThompson
    Commented Oct 18, 2020 at 18:10
  • 9
    It's not real on its own terms.
    – Mary
    Commented Oct 19, 2020 at 1:17
  • 7
    I'm hoping that Star Wars Epsiode X opens by depicting the sequel trilogy as a dream that Luke had.
    – EvilSnack
    Commented Oct 19, 2020 at 2:34
  • 6
    It's usually a Deus ex machina -- hand wave, and all is done. It's similar to allowing magic 5 pages from the end of the book Commented Oct 19, 2020 at 4:17
  • 1
    "Perchance to Dream" is often said to be one of the best episodes of Batman: The Animated Series (S1E30) and basically uses IWAJAD, but it works in that context because Bruce Wayne is already an established character. I think that's the challenge this answer really points out - if we're not already invested in the dreamer, then a smash-cut to "whoops, they were dreaming" is just unsatisfying because it implies the dream had no consequences. If we are invested in the dreamer, then we can start asking questions about what the dream means or how experiencing it will affect them. Commented Oct 19, 2020 at 12:47

Hot Potato:

Good luck with that one, you'll need it. People don't like feeling that they're being tricked, and this plot twist lends itself to tricks. BUT if you do it right, people will nod their heads and say, "Ah! Of course! I should have seen it all along."

In The Matrix, what is and isn't real are fundamental questions to the story. How you justify this is going to be very touchy. For example, the character isn't going to be transformed into a new person through a mere dream. I agree with Mary that you need some sort of established story element that makes the whole thing work. I'm not sure if this is magic, VR, or something along those lines, but it sounds like maybe you've already nailed down that part.

A mystery is a good example of where people are tricked by the author and like it. You create a situation where everyone KNOWS they are being tricked, and people are anticipating the plot twist, guessing who the real killer was and how it got covered up. People don't read a mystery novel and get shocked that there is a mystery.

So if you're going to make this work, you'll need to follow the mystery formula. Leave clues as to what is going on. Everyone can see SOMETHING is out of place, but the exact twist is eluding them. When the actual reveal takes place, the reader should go, "Wow, I didn't see that, but now that it's clear, it couldn't have been anything else."

You really need a plot twist to bring it home, so it's not following the total stereotype. Maybe the character can be angry and resentful of the manipulation carried out on him to push him into his achievement. Imagine Ender Wiggin from Ender's Game deciding to make the world pay for how he was manipulated and used to exterminate an entire species. IWAJAD is too pat of a solution, and SOMETHING has to make this unique and not just frustrating. Exactly what form that takes is up to you, but don't just leave it like that.

  • EDIT: PS this is one of the few plot twists I have ever seen singled out by literary agents in their "DO NOT" lists, so it could be tricky to get published. If done right, it can still work, but I thought I should mention it.
  • 1
    While this is a good answer, your examples seem out of place. In Matrix, both what happens inside and outside the matrix have actual consequences. What happened to Neo prior to him leaving the Matrix for the first time is in no way invalidated at any point. Every person he might have lost in the matrix is gone outside of it as well. And Ender's Game, while a great story, is the exact opposite of IWAJAD. Also... apart from the dream thing, Ender does not turn to revenge and yet I still liked the story and didn't feel cheated. So what exactly are you trying to say there?
    – Mark
    Commented Oct 19, 2020 at 11:57
  • 2
    @Mark The Matrix was an example where real and virtual were blended perfectly, so it worked. In Ender's Game, the manipulation to prep him for his role was in the real world, with real consequences for people who died (so again, is an example of what TO do). These two examples are the well-done "book ends" she needs to squeeze her story between. Perfect hero-prep and perfect virtual without stary violation. VR to prep someone to change personality without reality is like a VR version of Groundhog Day - forced, so you need to make it a mystery to take away the betrayal of the reader.
    – DWKraus
    Commented Oct 19, 2020 at 13:02
  • 1
    @Mark Ender is much like the character described here - he is forced to turn into something he isn't to serve a greater perceived good. Afterwards, he comes to question the justice of the entire process that created him, and even the goals of the program. The OP describes this IWAJAD as a needed transformation so the main character can fulfill his destiny. My suggestion is that maybe the main character doesn't embrace the changes once he realizes it was all a manipulation to get him to serve a greater good. Ender's Game is an example to relate to this story after the goal is met.
    – DWKraus
    Commented Oct 19, 2020 at 19:55
  • 1
    @Mark And BTW, Ender's Game was an inverted version of IWAJAD, as Ender thought the great last battle was a simulation, not reality. Plus, the virtual game he was playing on-line (with the hive queen, unknown to him) was similarly and inverted AWAJAD as the innocent personality game was really a communication from the aliens.
    – DWKraus
    Commented Oct 19, 2020 at 20:13
  • 2
    @Mark By the same token Inception takes place primarily in dreams, but it doesn't qualify as IWAJAD because the reader knows that it is a dream the entire time
    – Kevin
    Commented Oct 20, 2020 at 17:34

On the question of "Why IWAJAD is a bad plot twist anyway?" I agree with most of what's been said (cheapens the impact of the events that occurred in the dream).

@Llewellyn's question gets right at the issue - if the bulk of the story is the dream, then the protagonist wakes up in the last chapter and realizes the dream has given him what he needs to save the world, and cleans it up nice and quick, it's probably not going to work.

As to the question of "If I should continue, what should I avoid to write a good plot twist and not ruin my novel?" I think you might actually have the start of a way to keep it. I think you might have someplace to go if you stop thinking of the IWAJAD device as a/the 'plot twist.' The twist (if you must have one) is that it wasn't "all just a dream" - it's that the dream actually mattered. If you have a first act that sets up the problem, a second act that is the dream, and a third act in which the protagonist applies the lessons/growth of the dream to saving the 'real' world, you might be able to pull it off.

The critical challenge, as everyone has said, will be making sure the reader doesn't feel cheated about any emotional investment in the events of the dream - while simultaneously giving the dream the dramatic stakes necessary to a) justify the protagonists growth, and b) keep the reader interested. That's going to be very tough.

If you want to keep the dream device, I think the key to doing it well will be to somewhat show your cards during the dream portions - include elements that the reader, at least upon re-reading, will see is pointing to things not being as they seem. That makes it a little less 'cheap.'

I have two suggestions for how to use a dream while avoiding ruining your novel. Neither is easy.

  1. Consider having the protagonist enter and exit the dream state throughout the story, rather than having one big dream chunk. It can still be 'twisty' if you either make the separation between the dream portions and awake portions somewhat ambiguous (but not to the point of the 'reveal' being "oh, yeah, X, Y, Z never happened that was a dream), or keep the applicability of the dream to the 'real' world unclear until near the end. Obviously, if you are talking about a person's dreams through the whole book, readers are going to know there's a reason; but if you do it right, you may still be pull of a twist (a reveal, really) with the protagonist realizing the meaning of the dream. (Think of the movie 'Signs' - many seemingly unrelated details/events ended up setting the stage for the victory of the protagonists; how you feel about that movie may affect your evaluation of that approach).
  2. Consider telling the story non-chronologically. If you jump around in time, you could conceivably reveal that portions of it "didn't happen" without making the reader feel cheated, because the non-linear approach already undermines (in a good way when done right) their expectations and experience of the dramatic events anyway. For example, if a character dies in Chapter 2, before we get to know them or care about them, but then we get to know and care about them throughout the rest of the book, we won't feel cheated when it turns out they didn't die, because it wasn't reading about their death that gave us an emotional experience. Instead, readers (potentially) may feel great relief and happy surprise. Writing a non-chronological story is already extremely difficult, weaving in 'dream' and 'real' sequences into it is only going to make it much harder. If you are up for a challenge, I say go for it - but if you actually pull something like that off, make sure you thank me when you accept your Pulitzer.
  • 1
    I like the option of the protagonist entering and exiting the dream. So the hero might be a boring white-collar worker during the day, but when he goes to sleep, he dreams to be an hero... or is he magically transported to a fantasy realm where he fightis against dragons? You basically have a two scenario setting. The reader sees that the protagonist goes to sleep, so they know the whole time that it might be a dream, and won't feel cheated by it (actually, they probably won't end up not knowing if what your protagonist went through during the night was real or not... and neither the hero).
    – Ángel
    Commented Oct 20, 2020 at 22:56

This is a very interesting question, and by no means trivial. The IWAJAD device has been used many times in literature but often ineffectively. The trick is to make it work.

In John Bunyan's "Pilgrim's Progress" and in H. P. Lovecraft's "The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath" we are told from the beginning that the story is a dream. Yet at the the end we are surprised by the fact again. That is effective.

J. R. R. Tolkien, in his essay "On Fairy-Stories" says "A real dream may indeed sometimes be a fairy-story of almost elvish ease and skill – while it is being dreamed. But if a waking writer tells you that his tale is only a thing imagined in his sleep, he cheats deliberately the primal desire at the heart of Faërie: the realisation, independent of the conceiving mind, of imagined wonder."

Don't cheat. Don't make the dream a deus ex machina that explains the story. You may be able to inform the reader at the end that it was a dream or hallucination, without making it part of the plot. Ambrose Bierce's "An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge" is an example. The character's dream is the story itself, but the plot is very simple: he is hanged.

Another way to handle this issue to to leave the reader unsure, although the story is fantastic and requires the suspension of disbelief. Is Dante's "Divine Comedy" a dream? It is left ambiguous.

To sum up this limited explanation, IWAJAD can be an effective literary device, but it takes careful handling. Your scenario in which the protagonist has a personality change induced by a dream is (if I understand you) is not really an example of IWAJAD but instead a necessary part of the plot. I think your worries are misplaced. You should perhaps make a distinction between kinds of dreams as the Greeks did.

I'm not sure a "personality change" would be as effective as your protagonist learning something from a dream that he is able to use in the world of your novel. That is another old device that rarely fails to impress the reader when done well. We all want to believe that our dreams have meaning.


It's ok to use it if the dream is a very short scene, or if it takes place in the opening of the story. With short scenes, we have a very dreamlike duration, meaning IWAJAD doesn't delete or invalidate very much. It was only just a short scene after all. At the opening of a story, the scene can be longer. We're being introduced to one or more characters, and their general situation, setting, or a minor conflict they must overcome. Even if it's a chapter or two, it's ok to end the opening sequence with IWAJAD because this provides an opportunity to use the dream as a stepping stone for the larger story to come.

Ending a large section of the story with IWAJAD is cheap because it didn't happen, unless your world allows real events to happen in dreams, that affect more than one character. Ending an entire story with IWAJAD is doable but only when the story themes are about existentialism, solipsism, or the uncertainties of being a consciousness in a body. If the themes relate to reality's uncertain or absurd existence, then it might be ok to end the story with IWAJAD but this should be done tastefully and abruptly so that there is no world outside the dream. At that point it becomes a commentary, and what comes after IWAJAD isn't devalued, because there isn't anything there.

IWAJAD is generally hated because it devalues the events that occur within the dream. When writing good stories, we try to remove unnecessary events, because they tend to be skimmed or skipped so as to get to the good parts faster. The good parts are interesting, maybe surprising, and they matter. They change the plot and/or characters so it doesn't feel like our characters are standing in a pond.

If the events take place in a dream, they will be devalued unless those events actually affect the characters and places within the dream. At that point, the dream world becomes an extension of the real world, such as in VR, so the IWAJAD reveal wouldn't be as disappointing as if, say, the protagonist wakes up and finds the other characters returned to the status quo.


Why would the protagonist not care about what happens, whether or not it's a dream?

The Matrix leans into that, with damage to your real body magically appearing when in the Matrix. Knowing the themes of the second and third films, this is perhaps a first hint that the "real" world might not be.

Otherland by Tad Williams has a similar theme. The protagonists in that series know the virtual world can't physically hurt their bodies, but it can immerse them in unending torture which is no less real in terms of horror and pain. (And later it becomes clear that there are mechanisms which can kill you too; this is something of a weak point, but never mind.) The protagonists learn to trust each other and work together, even those who weren't previously able to. They also care about characters who are clearly computer-generated, because those characters are self-aware enough to be much more than just window-dressing NPCs.

And one of the key elements of the Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever series is his unbelief in the Land and Lord Foul. He resolves this by considering them both to be aspects of his personality, and choosing to reject the "Foul" aspect. Donaldson is careful to never be clear about the Land's actual existence, because the real battle between good and evil happens in your head.

In all three of these, the protagonists care about the outcome, regardless of knowing this isn't the real world they're fighting in. This removes the "twist", certainly, but it doesn't make the story less effective. And crucially, it doesn't cheapen the experience for the reader. You might want to read those and consider whether you genuinely need a cheap twist, or whether the story would be better with a different twist - that the protagonist can change and empathize, even knowing this isn't 100% "real".

  • " Donaldson is careful to never be clear about the Land's actual existence" - what about Hile Troy?
    – AakashM
    Commented Oct 19, 2020 at 12:15
  • @AakashM How do you know Hile Troy existed in our world, and isn't just a figment of Covenant's imagination?
    – Graham
    Commented Oct 19, 2020 at 14:59
  • 1
    Sorry, but bringing Thomas Covenant into this is bad. People either love or hate it. I'm one of the few who just found it boring. I've only stopped reading a few series in my life, and this was one.
    – NomadMaker
    Commented Oct 19, 2020 at 17:05
  • @NomadMaker I was reading along and was waiting for Thomas Covenant to be brought up. I agree that it's a tough read and felt considerably based on Tolkien's imagination, but I think it did actually give a good counter-point. The central character is actually presented, repeatedly, with a dream-like situation in which he could become free of the stigmatism of the real world... and he wastes it. I left the first three feeling angry with his character but is there really a notion that characters must also become more likable during the course of their dream state?
    – roganjosh
    Commented Oct 19, 2020 at 19:49
  • @NomadMaker How is it relevant to the OP's question whether you liked it or not? This is about thematic issues and concepts. For the record, I'm not a fan of Donaldson's writing style - but seeing how he handles the issue of "is this my real life, is this just fantasy?" (thanks Freddie!) would certainly be useful for the OP.
    – Graham
    Commented Oct 19, 2020 at 22:45

A successful dream segment in a story, unless it's very brief, and presented explicitly as a dream, needs to:

a) Tell a complete, self-contained story.
b) Come to an emotionally satisfying conclusion
c) Have a real impact on the world outside the dream

A good example is the film version of the Wizard of Oz. Dorothy completes her quest in the dream, her victory is earned, and she takes the lessons she gained from it back to her real world existence. Miss out on any of these ingredients, and you'll leave people dissatisfied with the dream.

One additional caveat: If you are gaining benefits from letting the reader think this is reality, it will feel like a cheat. A brief nightmare that feels real is acceptable --that's a true-to-life experience. But getting extended play out of a deceptive reality --unless the deception is key to the story itself! --is going to backfire. For that reason a dream should not be used as a plot twist. When it is forced into that role in the story, it will almost inevitably be experienced as illegitimate.

  • Part of why The Wizard of Oz works is that we know that she is on a fantastical journey the whole time. If the story started off in Oz and at the end we were told that it was all just a dream it wouldn't work the same way
    – Kevin
    Commented Oct 20, 2020 at 17:36

Your big problem is probably convincing people that his personality actually changed, and his training was actually effective, in the dream.

Establish in advance that dream-training is possible, and in less time than waking-training. Have his trainer say something like, "And now it is time for you to wake up." Have him to realize, right after waking, that something changed and test his power.

"It was a dream" twists are generally unpopular because they are used to erase events.


What you describe doesn't sound like "it was all just a dream". It sounds more like the completely different "dream-world quest" or "fantasy training sequence". This is when the heroes have a problem and the method to solve it just happens to be some sort of fantasy sequence. Drinking an Amazon shaman's potion to contact a helpful spirit, entering some virtual reality to reason with an AI, putting on a helmet to enter someone's dream, going on an errand in the Astral plane, Homer Simpson eating a ghost pepper... all very common things.

The reader knows in advance it's not real. But what matters is the hero can succeed or fail or have some real-world affect. If chapter one of your book is a 4-year-old in kindergarten that turns out to be a dream in chapter 2, bleh! But if we know they contacted Alti for help and this is the dream sequence she gave them ... now that's interesting. Somewhere in this class is something that can power them up, if they can find it.


Now, there are many great answers to this question, I'm quite surprised that you haven't selected an answer yet.

The main problems with the IWAJAD include:

  1. It can add nothing. Think of Chekovs gun - if a plot device adds nothing it is not needed.
  2. It nullifies everything that has happened before
  3. It is completely incompatible with most scenes
  4. The reader honestly does not care if it's a dream or not, they already know that it's a book their reading
  5. Most people know the whole of reality could be fake. Does that stop people (who do not already suffer from mental illnesses/conditions) from living?
  6. Do you expect me to believe a human can dream a whole vivid story in their dreams? So is it a supernatural beings's dream? In that case you need to talk about it throughout the initial story; foreshadow and make it a theme.

However there are exceptions:

  1. If it compensates for a small part of the narrative. However, when this is used it is almost obviously recognizable e.g. in Jekyll and Hyde, Utterson's dream shows us his mental state.
  2. If the idea of Cartesian skepticism and supernatural-ness is your theme

This is very hard. Can you even turn Des Cartes' meditations into a story! Most themes that are even close to philosophy are about: psychology (again Jekyll and Hyde), poliical science (Julius Caesar), sociology (some book), how we should like our lives or be happy, etc.

Actually in philosophy, things like:

  • solipsism
  • Cartesian skeptism
  • naive realism, indirect realism and idealism

can be hard to add upon and things like morality and aesthetics usually assume the world exist so you can't pursue these as well when existence is brought into question. And to turn these concepts into novels, you usually have to abandon:

  • character development
  • character relations

as the actual universe around them is the topic of discussion not themselves.

Of course, you could try metafiction but that normally introduces the artificial-ness or IWAJAD earlier on.

I'm forgot this horror writer's name but he usually created monster-like Gods to show the minor-ness of human knowledge and capability.

  1. It is foreshadowed. This is extremely hard to do and does not resolve Problem 1.
  2. This is just an idea, it's what happens when you ask questions like this an activate my creative brain- obviously I'm not going to actually be putting pen to paper :D


  • Mini Story: no long detailed plot. Maybe just the events of one person in one day made interesting
  • IWAJAD- type thing. I was thinking that a group of beings were discussing novel ideas. And the mini-story before was just one of the beings ideas.
  • Now another being says that the previous story was rubbish and tells his own.
  • Cycle repeats until either all of the stories are joined into one story where (for example) the characters meet and solves each other's problems. Or when the beings themselves turn out to be stories by other beings!
  • From here you could make the beings be god's making a part of their divine plan or just humans that believe they are real and are making a world they know is fake, which could be compared to the author believing s/he is real and the worlds (stories) s/he has made is fake which in turn could mean there is a God who made the author (and the world the author belongs in) and his worlds/stories.

This allows:

  • multiple themes: the stories the beings tell can be about anything.
  • these themes can be presented as serious but in the grand scheme of things seem ridiculous and insignificant since they don' exist.
  • IWAJAD - type thing
  • Is the Horror Writer you're trying to think of that "usually created monster-like Gods to show the minor-ness of human knowledge and capability" H.P. Lovecraft?
    – Ty Hayes
    Commented Oct 19, 2020 at 9:07
  • @TyHayes Yes thanks!
    – user716881
    Commented Oct 27, 2020 at 0:02

Does it have to be a dream, exactly? There are ways to "reset" without making it seem like cheating.

I just watched Zathura. In that story, the characters really were in danger the whole time, but they successfully reached the end of the game by learning to work together (or something like that). Ending they game sent them back in time to before they started. They remembered everything, and so retained their character development.

What if your plot twist is not that the hero wakes from the dream, but that he realizes he's dreaming? And that if he doesn't reach a certain goal, he'll never wake from his coma? Or that the old wives' tale is true - if he dies in the dream, he'll die in real life? Real danger, a reset, retains character development.


Yes, you can, if you take a particular approach to the twist. At a bare minimum, you must foreshadow and hint at the twist. You could do any or all of the following.

  • If you reveal that the protagonist has spent the previous part of the story in a false reality, reveal an original reason behind the false reality that you haven't seen before.
  • Have the protagonist take an unusual approach to the revelation. Rather than the usual "I want out of this dream!" have them prefer the dream, for example. Or have other characters certain they live in a dream and the protagonist doubt it.
  • Make the revelation meaningful in some way. It could introduce a moral dilemma.

As others have explained very well, IWAJAD is all but guaranteed to cheapen and even invalidate most of your story. Even if you can come up with a clever way to get around this, it is still a huge risk.

But with this being a central theme of your story, stripping it out could make things fall apart, which puts you in a difficult situation.

However, there is a relatively easy way to use IWAJAD (and therefore not change your story much) without ruining it when you reveal the plot twist: don't reveal the plot twist! (at least not entirely)

Essentially, you want to convert the plot twist from IWAJAD to WIAJAD (Was It All Just A Dream?). Leave the reader scratching their head, trying to figure it out. Try to get them to ask questions like:

Was it a dream?
Was it real?
Perhaps they are still dreaming?
Or they were awake, but hallucinating everything?
Or maybe "reality" is a dream and they actually just woke up for a while!

Even if they decide that it was in fact a dream, the simple fact that it could have been real alleviates the invalidation factor.

This does, of course, introduce a balancing act which you will have to handle carefully (but could be really fun!) You will need to walk a fine line of things that seem odd and out of place, but could still be possible. Push one thing too far outside of reality and the gig is up. (Though some things can certainly be justified in other ways.)


I don’t want to burst your bubble, but I have seen this plot twist far two often in sci fi books.

However, if the reader isn’t expecting this at all, it would be very effective. Especially if you planted little clues leading to this ending throughout the story, making your reader slap their forehead and say, OF COURSE! why didn’t I see it before?

On the flip side, if you don’t do this effectively it would release any built up tension for your reader, because now they they know it was all fake to begin with.

  • I don't think there's any way to make the entire emotional investment of the reader invalid while still being effective
    – yeah22
    Commented Oct 21, 2020 at 5:39

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