For example, here I am in chapter three, about to reveal something I probably would have tried to hold onto for later when I was less experienced, trying to create false tension through mystery, or save up something that's actually not such a big deal for a big reveal. (Luke. I am your father.)
And part of the problem here is that I'm working in well-trodden tropes on this one. …[O]nce upon a time I might have made the mistake of trying to conceal that what I had here was a derelict generation ship, and save it up for some kind of big reveal at the end. But isn't it more interesting if we know that going in, like we know that the lowly servant girl is somehow related to greatness, and then we can continue layering reveals and reversals on top of that?
That's what I mean when I say, shoot the whole deal. Get it out there. Get it on the page. Don't hold it back for a [surprise] ending, because then what the hell else do you have to construct a story with?
Nobody likes self-conscious coyness.
Now, I think there’s a question here of whether or not the particular details in question are germane to the essence of the story, or if, as in many mysteries, the story turns around a lack of a particular piece of information. I can think of any number of Agatha Christie’s works that quite successfully, with misdirection and even untrustworthy narration, kept information from the reader until you reach an “aha” moment at the end.
I’m not saying that Elizabeth doesn’t have a point, or that she doesn’t know more about this than I, given our relative levels of experience. But I do think that there is a place for this sort of withholding. I think I did it successfully in “I.P.A.N.E.M.A. Girl” (though we’ll see what the markets have to say about that), and I’m sure that I’ve read it any number of times in Ed McBain, Christie, etc.
My question is: When is it appropriate, to the telling? What factors play into that decision? (Or is this always a “game-time” call?)