Aug 30, 2011
The success equation...or when the stars align
Last week I was offered a job. It’s the perfect position for me right now: perfect place, time and expectations. The offer came about through two events: the fact that three years ago I changed careers and got an advanced degree so I could teach; and that four years ago, my son’s name was pulled from a lottery so he could attend a charter school. The first I definitely controlled. The second had nothing to do with me, other than the fact I entered his name in the lottery. The job offer came because preparedness met opportunity in my favor.
Luck = preparedness + opportunity + timing.
Back when I was a reporter in Seattle, I met Bret Lott, who wrote Jewel, one of Oprah's earliest book club choices. I told him that 99 percent of writers couldn’t possibly expect to have the same luck he did. “Of course not,” he told me (and I paraphrase bc this was a while ago). “But that’s no reason not to write. I never would’ve been lucky had I not been writing.”
Which was kind of nice to hear. Write, I can do. Revise, I can do. And if I can do nothing about timing, *shrugs* neither can anyone else.
Since my almost-finished WIP is a mystery, timing is crucial. I’ve got to build tension gradually, dropping clues like breadcrumbs at just the right intervals so I don’t lose/choke my reader. This is killing me right now – avoiding info dump in those first three chapters while keeping my word count low. There are certain things my MC must know right away and, since this is based on a true story, that translates to a lot of info.
It all leads to a really cool, suspenseful ending so there’s only so much I can cut or move to later. Which leads back to the info-dump problem.
It’s the revision catch-22, the endless merry-go-round I can’t get off.
So please, oh-gentle-and-more-experienced writer, what’s the equation to dropping key info in at the right time?
Timing = information + pacing + ???
Later this week or next, Cole Gibsen will share her publishing journey. Please join us!