Too Much Too Soon? Rate of Revelation

A chapter of a novel I was critiquing today contained three important scenes that in some way resolved the story’s main questions. The trouble was, these scenes tied up conflicts near the middle of the book. The technical term is the Rate of Revelation. Holding back on resolution yet maintaining tension can be some of the more frustrating parts of novel writing. On your first draft, just get your story down, even if there are similar mistakes. On revision (second or thirty-second drafts), you can move these seminal scenes or spread them out so everything isn’t happening at once. By foreshadowing or witholding crucial information, characters are able to argue about important stuff but leave the matter unresolved. This helps prop up the mid-point of a novel and also pulls your reader forward.
Writing Tip for Today: When you revise, look for scenes that try to accomplish too much or that deflate too much of the tension. In the middle of a novel, your biggest questions can be brought up, but if you resolve them, the story will end. A fancy term, the Rate of Revelation, just means how fast or slow you reveal to the reader certain information. Witholding and/or foreshadowing (setting up earlier in the story) are tools you can use to control this rate.

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About Linda S. Clare

I'm an author, speaker, writing coach and mentor. I teach both fiction and nonfiction writing at Lane Community College and in the doctoral program as expert writing advisor for George Fox University. I love helping writers improve their craft and I'm both an avid reader and writer of stories about those with wounded hearts.

2 comments on “Too Much Too Soon? Rate of Revelation

  1. Hi Linda,
    Class was fun tonight. What an interesting group of authors this term.
    I am still waiting to get my computer fixed, but learning how to operate my daughter’s laptop. I will get back to following your blog. I really appreciate your writing tips.

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