Getting the Good Stuff In First

There’s one think about all young writers (and I mean young by number of books written not age)–they all want to hold back on stuff. This crops up either in a synopsis (but I want to make the agent/editor want to read the book so I don’t want to tell the secret or big surprise), or in the manuscript (but I want the reader to get to the last part of the book before I reveal this big twist).

Darling writer–you’re not going to get that agent/editor to read the book nor are you going to get the reader to the last part of the book if you hold back on all the good stuff.

Get the good stuff in first. Or look at it this way–does a flower say, “Oh, I’m only going to blossom half way because I want to hold back.” No–it goes all out to give you its best as soon as it can.

Lead with your best. It is not wise or kind to hold back on this because basically you’re risking boring the reader (or worse, confusing the reader). Lead with your best because that’s the best way to hook a reader.

Ah, but now I hear you ask, “What about mystery? What about suspense? What about my great surprise?” Mystery and suspense comes from keeping information from your CHARACTERS (not from your readers). Play fair with the readers. Give them all the stuff they need to know. Then put in suspense by having your characters in the dark–make the characters struggle with understanding everything. Also, keep in mind that most readers don’t really want huge shocks or surprises–they can be very uncomfortable and if not handled well will throw the reader right out of the story.

So get the good stuff in first–it will give you happy readers who can’t wait to turn the page to see what the characters are going to do next. Getting all the good stuff up front, right where it’s going to temp readers into reading more.

Now I hear you say, “But if I use up all the good stuff up front then what goes into the rest of the book.” This is where you have to put in even better stuff. This is where your job as a writer comes into play–you think up even better stuff and get that to the reader as soon as you can.


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