There’s a trick to storytelling, to capturing our readers’ attention, and it’s not just about piling on the details and descriptions. We have to maintain some mystery. If we reveal too much too soon, our constant reader will work out what’s going to happen, their curiosity will wane and they’ll lose interest. In the process, we’ll destroy the narrative tension. There’s no harm in dropping hints along the way; that’s how we hook our readers attention and keep them gripped.
So we need to pay attention to what we want to tell our readers, and when we should tell them, and give them a reason to carry on reading. There are hundreds, thousands of other books they can choose instead of this one, so leave the resolution of the mystery until near the end of the story.
Remember to start your novel in the middle of the action. There’s little point in going into raptures about your main character’s genteel and protected childhood, or waxing lyrical about the effect of the weather on the surrounding countryside if neither is going to have an impact on the story or what happens next, and doesn’t actually tell the reader anything he needs to know.
Your story should move along at a god clip – much better than boring your readers with too slow a pace – but don’t go so fast that you leave them bewildered. In the rush to get it all out it’s easy to miss vital plot points, confuse timescales and forget to explain that sudden appearance of the mysterious character in chapter three.
Don’t forget the element of surprise; build the suspense in a chain of consequences so your reader is always wondering what is coming next. Readers like to work things out for themselves. Give them a reason to keep turning the pages and you’ll hold their interest to the end.