Friday, April 17, 2009

It's Okay to Make Them Wait

Curiosity in a reader is a good thing, right? As long as it’s curiosity and not confusion. Like most other lines we writers ride, it’s a fine one.

For example, I was reading a book that was fast losing my interest. The characters weren’t doing much to reel me in and the plot was moving pretty slow. But there was this dog that traveled with the two main characters and the author had already given several hints that the dog was not really just a dog. So I’m compelled to read further, to find out about this blasted not-dog if nothing else. Perhaps by the time I figure out what it actually is, the characters and storyline will have hooked me again.

How does this apply to my own writing? Well, hopefully I don’t lose my readers with plot and character problems to begin with, but there are certain elements in my story that I WANT the reader to be curious about and wait for – mostly dealing with the angels of the world.

My prologue gives the reader a glimpse into the angels’ world and introduces you to a main character in the story. Then I jump into chapter 1 with Paige, my protagonist, who knows nothing about angels. A couple chapters in, she meets the angel character, but he goes by a different name and she has no idea he’s an angel, but I’m hoping I’ve dropped enough hints for the reader to realize who he is. This angel then accompanies her through the rest of the story, guiding her a bit, and near the end she learns the truth. He explains more about the angels at that time, information that was hinted at all the way back in the prologue.

Now, the angels stuff isn’t really key to the flow of the novel. It’s from Paige’s POV and she doesn’t even know of them, so how could it? But I want the READER to be curious. What I don’t want is for them to feel overwhelmed by the need to know information that I only hint at in the beginning.

Essentially I need the reader to trust me, the writer. I need to somehow show them that I’m not going to leave them hanging and that it will be explained, but that it’s just not the right time at the beginning. My CC reviewers are all getting stuck on details and want me to slow down and explain them, but I want to move into the action of the story. How do I convey that they should be interested, but not obsessed?

To my fellow writers: How do you get your readers to trust you? What do you make your readers wait for?

Because I, for one, am convinced that it’s okay to make them wait. Curiosity is a good thing.


Captain Hook said...

It is a hard thing. I have no advice really, but have the same thing in Cassandra's Secrets. In the first chapter, I introduce Cassie's abusive, drunk father. Then throughout the story, there are hints as to who the "Boss" in charge of her kidnapping is - which the reader finds out toward the end of the book.

I hope I do it well.

Suzette Saxton said...

Hi Anette! Your premise sounds fantastic. Thanks for following the QueryTracker blog!

Lady Glamis said...

You know, I don't know how to get my readers to trust me. It's a tough balance between annoying your reader and getting them to trust you. I think if you have enough scenes at the beginning that follow through on little hints, that the reader will trust you on the bigger ones. Does that make sense?

This is a really good topic and question... I may have to cover this sometime!

Anonymous said...

well i think sometimes you have to come right out and tell them it isn't that important in the begining. like in some movies and shows were they tell you you will have to wait for the big picture

Anette J Kres said...

Capt Hook - good luck!

Suzette - thanks!

Glam - I think you're on the right track with the balancing.

Anon - I've been thinking about this all day since I put the post up and decided to try the direct approach. Your comment just confirms that it may be the right step. I wish I knew who you were though!