top of page

Close what you open, unless you mean not to.

That’s almost a tautology. Here is what I mean. We open a book, and the book is set in a post-apocalyptic wasteland. We learn about a father figure who lost a son. We learn about a character who is afraid of giant radioactive spiders. We discover the big bad is doing all of this to avenge his lost daughter.

All of these are prompts to questions.

Why did civilization fall?

How did the father lose his son? How has he coped?

Why is she afraid of radioactive spiders? How are there such spiders?

If the big bad isn’t bad why does everyone perceive him that way? How did he lose his daughter? How did that trigger the action in question?

These discoveries are also all questions and each question is a promise to the reader that you will answer the question, to some degree. The promise between a reader and an author is the continued delivery on promises made. They are set up in the beginning of a structure, and used to draw the reader through. It’s the ultimate reality of “What happens next?” The author who fails to deliver on those promises, will lose their reader in the book, or possible over the course of several books.

Do the answers have to be given quickly? No. you can draw them out for even whole books at a time, but you can’t annoy the reader with the delay. Characters and situations must evolve, but at the core you must be constantly answering a little more of the promise, or delivering new promises as a result.

The Name of the Wind opens with a promise of learning who killed the main character’s family. By the end of the entire first book, 400,000 + words later, we still don’t really understand the answer but we have SOME form of answer given to us. The promise is partially given with a tantalizing hint of more to come.

The Long Earth, by its nature asks the question, why have human beings been given the ability to jump between realities. It is the promise and question wrapped into the premise. I’m on the long Cosmos, 4 books later, and while each book moved a little more toward the answer, we still don’t know. But the promise is fulfilled a little each read.

The Road. The world is destroyed. Will a father and son survive? If you have never read it, I wont spoil how it goes for you. But again, the promise is fulfilled.

As authors we make promises to our readers. Think as you go about the promises you make in each chapter. Perhaps even write them down, to make sure you tie up the lose ends before the conclusion. Because we want to leave just enough behind for the reader to come back, but not so much they feel left out of the punch line.

As always, remember, writers write.

If this and other posts have helped you, remember to subscribe here.

3 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


Rated 0 out of 5 stars.
No ratings yet

Add a rating
bottom of page