Beginners often don’t know what information to reveal and what information to hide. Especially in science fiction and fantasy, writers have to set up a world as well as characters and a plot (which makes me wonder why mainstream literature underestimates SF/F so badly, but there you go). While we are told to “show, not tell,” beginners often try to show everything, which means they end up hiding everything.
Another part of this is cleverness, as I’ve discussed before. We are often trying so hard to ah ha! the reader to the detriment of our story, that we try to hide everything. It’s not just that the heroes are five-toed sloths, they are five-toed sloths on a water world, and they are blind. (Gross exaggeration, No one has ever done this to my knowledge.)
My suggestion is this. Tell the story as if you had nothing to hide. Sure, your first go-round might have a little too much telling, but that’s what editing is for. So now you have a story where there are no secrets except for what happens next. And what happens next is that the reader is powerfully caught up in your tale. They don’t have to worry about deciphering everything about your characters and your world. They just have to be absorbed in your plot.
And that’s the whole point. Not cleverness. Not the slow reveal. A reader caught up in your plot.
Give it a try next time you sit down to write. See what happens.