Please take a moment to read the very enjoyable comic to the right before continuing on to the rest of the post.
You don't have to. It's optional really. But, if you want to understand what this post is about, it's highly recommended.
Now, as you might know, depending on whether or not you read the comic, this post is about stories that as you to 'bear with them a moment.'
All books ask you, at some point or other, to bear with them for a moment. It's inevitable. Because that's how books work. They build suspense by keeping things from you and saying, "If you'll bear with me for a moment, you'll see how this all works out."
And, you know, that's perfectly okay. After all, we all read because we're interested in having things kept from us and having to ferret the information out. It's fun.
But here's my thing, I don't like it when people keep saying "Bear with me a moment" over and over again without throwing me so much as a bone of an answer. (Seriously people, all I'm asking is for one clue how all this stuff you've been telling me blends together.) It gets frustrating for the reader when things keep happening but the reader doesn't know how it's all supposed to link together and the writer isn't giving any clues on that front.
I've read some quite complicated books in my time, ones with many subplots that all weaved together or had a lot of back story that mattered but the reader didn't know it. And the writers who pulled this off had two things in common: they kept things interesting and they threw info to the reader so she felt in the loop.
When introducing new complications, don't just say, "this is going to get a bit more complicated and I'm not going to clear it all up just yet, but bear with me." Make it interesting for the reader, so you'll have something shiny to distract them with while you don't clear up the rest.
And keep passing on new information. Clear some things up as you go along. I don't mean you have to give up all your mysteries up front but give some things up as time goes on so the reader isn't spending the last 2/3 of your book going, "Wait, what in the name J.K. Rowling is going on? Who's that guy and where did that bloke go? Wasn't he incredibly important two chapters ago? WWHHAATT?!!?" So, if you've had a question burning for the last five chapters, maybe fill in that gap if you're planning on opening another one. In other words, if you're opening a window, please, I beg you, shut the door first.
So, ladies and gentlemen, if you'll bear with me a moment....
Have you ever run into a novel that told you to 'bear with me' a few too many times? How did that make you feel? Do you ever worry you might be doing this to your readers?