The Circle

Lesson 48 Chapter 4 Module 5

So the temptation with all this talk about premise and concept is to give away as much information as quickly as you can, cause that is what people seem to want.

Especially if you are writing something “as simple” as an online post or article that is competing for attention in a screaming echo chamber of noise.

Today’s excerpt, as I mentioned in my email, is from a book that came out years before people were losing their minds over the use of their personal information and data.

The Circle is a novel from McSweeney’s Internet Tendency founder Dave Eggers.

While you may be expecting a humor and satire star like Eggers to put down some fun light novel, this book is more about the realities and repercussions of our always-online full-of-information infiltrated digital existence.

In a week where we are learning about concept and premise, this excerpt is especially eye opening.

It’s from one of the main characters, Mae, as she becomes more and more acclimated to the thrill of achieving small measures of metrics and measurability in a session. The extended version, if you are feeling ambitious, has way more numbers to pay attention to; and might feel even more (horrifyingly) like your everyday life.

The premise and concept of the book is stated by another main character, modeled after the “wise” and successful Gen X and late Baby Boomer entrepreneurs of Silicon Valley.


The novel has a slow start, and that also seems to be by design. It doesn’t give you a ton of information and action in the first part because it is only once Mae’s knowledge is uploaded and quantified by the systems The Circle has in place that anything really starts happening.

So what does that mean for you and your writing?

Well, first off, when you deluge people with information (think numbers, links, data points, etc) it can read a bit like today’s excerpt.

Which means all that kinda swirls together and your reader walks away with a general idea, but no specific learnings.

More importantly, it teaches us about the importance of feeding people’s need to know things.

It seems counterintuitive, but sometimes it is what you hold back that keeps people reading. They keep turning the page or scrolling down the article because you leave a little trail of breadcrumbs for them to follow, while also dropping tasty treats along the way that promise a big reward at the end.

Sure, you may lose some folks who are buying your book or coming to your site just for the silver bullet answer. But you’ll keep the people who are interested in learning more and going through the process with you.

It builds devoted readers and followers, rather than folks who view your writing as a commodity that gets them an answer that they can click off of and never acknowledge you again.

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