I like to push the reader's trust. Whether it be toying with a familiar trope or testing the reader's memory, I think it's important to tantalize and reward the reader over the course of a story.
My new readers come to me with varying degrees of a innate trust in my storytelling ability. There is an innate "Suspension of Disbelief" within every reader, but this can be broken.
In my award-winning story "Psychic Poker", I led the reader through story that became more engrossing as it when on - with very deliberate beats drawing, pulling, then dragging the reader through the plot until it was too late, and the ending that should not have worked, satisfied the journey. Even when the world-famous authors who judged it, found themselves in a bit of vertigo in the end and praised me for solving the unsolvable. (You'll have to read it to know what I mean.) The worst critique i received by anyone was one website that called me "Too clever" and "(they) should have seen the ending coming" - basically admitting my success and being upset with me for it. So, I cannot really take their low star rating seriously.
I hope enough readers learn to trust me and enjoy the rewards therefrom.
In True Dragon, I have many many thing going on at the same time. A recent reader contacted me to discuss the book. They had come to the end of a chapter and were tentative about continuing because May, the main character, had been behaving strangely and they were losing respect for her, but just as they were on the verge of giving up on the character's growth, a scene happened where May was given the exact reality check the reader was hoping she would get. The reader was so surprised and happy that I done that that they reached out to me. It's not spoiling anything to say that I designed that absolutely critical scene to be the turning point in May's growth (and the other character in the scene). I had stretched that reader to the brink and rewarded them with exactly what they needed in the story at that exact time. And I am so proud of that. Honestly, until this reader contacted me, I could only suppose that the scene did what I had intended. I am not hearing from other readers, so I don't know how they are responding to it - but I heard from this one and they were so happy, I cried a little.
I don't write japes and jokes or trite little pieces for entertainment. I weave stories from my soul to engage the reader's mind and heart.
And that's why I don't sell well to Short Story publications. The short story market is dominated by "The Idea". Editors and rabid readers have devoured so much, that they treat every story like an epicurean with dim sum, or a flight of amuse bouche. They want a quick bite of something with a brief, striking flavors that are different than what they've had before - while I prefer to plate complex hors d'oeuvres that feel like meals to themselves. They may not have the sudden impact of a completely "unique "Idea", but the craft I put into them elevates them. One editor of short stories rejected Dart because they got bored of all the talking. It's a story about the relationship between two men at opposite ends of a bizarre spectrum of a fantasy realm: a Fairy Slave-slash-Assassin and his victim, an ancient Wizard in hiding. That it wasn't a swash-buckling affair featuring flinging spells and exploding castles doesn't mean it's a bad story - it's a great story, actually my favorite - it just means it's not a quick visceral read to be snacked like popcorn. Eventually, I figured out that my shorter works only seem to sell to editors and judges who were also novelists. Authors of longer works seem to appreciate my stories more than editors of short works, so I published my "Anthology Lazarus Black", filled with the best short works I had written to date.
In the end, I hope enough readers learn to trust me and enjoy the rewards therefrom.