Saturday, August 13, 2011

When to Play 'em, When to Hold 'em

I've been writing a new story—a police procedural—and really think this one has some potential. The main idea continues to center around the importance of organ donation (my old manuscript), with a new strong sub-plot of illegal immigration and racial prejudice. I hope I can craft it well enough to give everyone things to think about after they close the cover on a satisfying story.

Today, I read the first thirty pages and realized I'm trying to give readers too much too fast. Just because I know the primary characters really well doesn't mean my readers do. I need to give them the time and space to get to know them. That means that several of the scenes I've written will be held back for now.

And hopefully, I won't have to Fold 'em. (But I will if that's what the story needs.)

As writers, have you ever piled it on too quick? What made you discover you needed to slow down?

As readers, have you ever been frustrated by being jerked around from here to there and back again at the beginning of a story?

CR: Snake Skin by C.J. Lyons

It's all better with friends.


  1. OMG I'm so guilty of this and always have been. My agent always tells me "you don't have to explain so much." It's a habit I'm still trying to break. But at least you can cut it out after you write it. Sometimes you need to overwrite just to cement the info in your own head before moving forward. That's how I look at it anyway.

  2. My cps and I used "RUE" a lot. Resiste the Urge to Explain.

    My particular challenge with this one—at the moment—is more the introduction of other characters before they should be introduced. Pacing (slowing things down) is often my biggest struggle.

  3. Because I write a mystery series set in a small town, there's been quite a buildup of town folk over the course of the first five books. Now that I'm just about done with #6, I'm wondering if brand new readers will be overwhelmed by all those names. I've tried to give the different characters varying traits -- how they speak or walk, for instance -- but I've puzzled over how much of their backgrounds to give up front.

    Still working on it!

  4. Good luck to you on that quandary, Fran. It's such a fine balance between boring your regular readers and confusing your new ones. If you come up with a formula, let me know!