Has this happened to you?
You’re writing along and you think of a really juicy piece of info to put in your book. It’s one of your business secrets, or a particularly poignant piece of wisdom, or a bit of life experience that took you years to figure out. You’re about to write it in the current chapter, and then you pause. “Wait a minute,” you say to yourself. “I don’t know if I should reveal that this early. I’ll keep it for the end of the book, or even leave it out entirely so I have something in reserve for the sequel.”
This is a dangerous way to think while writing a book. Your readers expect to come away from your book with their lives changed forever. If at some point they suspect that those changes aren’t forthcoming, they’ll stop reading.
It won’t matter that all of your best material is at the end; if you lose the reader’s trust, they won’t ever reach it, or they’ll read the book so slowly that they’ll lose all of the excitement you built up with your opener, reducing the power of your ending to a “ho-hum” finish.
Solve this problem by sprinkling your best bits of writing throughout the entire book. Chapter three should be just as memorable as the final call to action. Chapter seven should perpetuate the excitement of the intro. Don’t hold back; give your readers your all. They are hungry for the knowledge you promised on your back cover. Feed them.
You can reserve ONE good line or story or piece of info to use in your final chapter to knock it out of the park. Share the rest generously. Your readers will appreciate you for it.
Keep it up, Author! You’re well on your way to finishing your book!
*This Week’s Word Count*
Your book is as long as: The Art of War by Sun Tzu
Novelists, you may have experienced a similar moment to the one I described for our nonfiction writers. You’re writing a scene, and you think of a great zinger or bit of action or plot reveal to throw in. You start to write it down, but then you think, “Wait, this is too good to just throw away in the middle of the book! I’ll keep it for the end.”
This is particularly common if your book has some sort of mystery to it. You may think, “I want to keep enticing them with the mystery, so I won’t reveal anything about what’s going on until the climax.”
Like with nonfiction, however, readers expect something to keep them going while they wait for the plot to come together at the end. If they are strung along too much, they will grow disinterested. You need to reveal bits and pieces of information and present interesting action and character development throughout the entire book. Yes, you can hold your biggest moment in reserve for the end, but spread the good material leading up to that moment throughout the entire book instead of clumping it all together in the final third.
These moments can take multiple different forms. Let a character figure out a small part of the mystery. Create and resolve a minor subplot in the second quarter of the story. Let the protagonists encounter the villains a couple times to see what they’re up against. Have two protagonists get into a disagreement, and resolve it at the halfway mark. Make the characters find their way past a secondary obstacle that prevents them from continuing toward their main goal. The possibilities are endless. Find one that you like and work it.
You’ve got this, Author. Keep writing, and don’t hold back!
*This Week’s Word Count*
Your book is as long as: Twelfth Night by William Shakespeare