Monday, November 14, 2011

Writing Prompt- Skeletons in the Closet

Secrets, everyone has secrets. They can be what drives people to do or to not do things. They make things exciting. Some secrets aren't very big while others are. And secrets can make people to crazy things to keep them hidden.

So tonight we're going to take a look at secrets and how to incorporate them into your stories.

Everyone has them
Everyone person has a secret and sometimes those secrets can effect other people around them. When creating your characters, remember that while they don't have to have a secret, they can. Now it doesn't have to be life threatening, although it can, but it can be as simple as a friend having a secret crush on the same person that your character. But they can be big, like keeping a boy/girlfriend a secret from their parents, the unknown sibling or half-sibling, etc.

But remember no matter what secret a character has, if that character is going to reveal it at some point in time, make sure it at least has something to do with the story. It doesn't have to effect the MC his/herself, but it could affect a friend which in turn, effects the MC. There's endless possibilities.

It doesn't have to be a person.
Something that some people forget is that not just people can have secrets. Buildings for example can, like a secret passageway or a room. Animals can have a secret like maybe burying or hiding something that belongs to a character and then later on having the character find it.

By giving buildings or something besides a character a secret can build to the story. It can add elements to the story that previously wouldn't have been there or it can give a character a secret in turn (for example, a character finds the secret passageway and decides to keep it a secret).

One could be sneaky and have the MC think someone has a secret but really they don't! A character could also be keeping a secret for another character.

Keep the reader guessing.
Remember that if someone or something is going to have a secret, they're going to keep it as long as possible. When thinking about when to reveal it, or if to reveal it at all, think about the timing of it. One wouldn't want to reveal the secret whenever, that could throw the story off, or if you put it in a spot with a bunch of other stuff going on, it could get lost in the commotion or lose its importance. If you're going to reveal a secret trying finding a spot in the story where the character or something doesn't have a choice but to reveal it.

For example, Charrie has a secret boyfriend she's been hiding. This boyfriend happens to be Kia's boyfriend. And during the big Spring Prom, this boyfriend has no choice but to reveal to one of the girls that he's been cheating on her. Of course, he could just not go, but he has to go because he is the host of the party. He could have just chose between the two girls eailer but he's been trying to lead both girls on as long as possible. So now he calls one of the girls, just as she's getting ready to go, and tells her that he's sick, thinking that she'll stay home. But instead she tags along with her best friend and when she gets to Prom, guess who's there! Now the boyfriend has no choice but to reveal his secret.

Here's some tips to help you come up with some ideas.

  • Look at your MC and some other characters. What do they have that could be a secret? Do they know something or  have something that they don't want anyone to know about or something they want to reveal too the world? List all the possibilities and then decide what could be used. Remember that characters can have more than one secret. 
  • Back stories can be great sources for secrets. If you're having trouble thinking of a back story or what to add to one, try adding in a secret. 
  • Does your character or another character know something they shouldn't? Are they keeping a secret for someone? Try writing a scene where a character finds out something important and doesn't know what to do about it. Then have them go tell that secret to someone else. 
  • What would happen if a character accused another of having a secret they didn't really. What if they confronted them about it privately or publicly?
  • Remember that when a secret is revealed, it will always cause someone to lost trust in that character. Even if it's a good secret or something that they knew but shouldn't have. 
  • Also, secrets add mystery. People like mysteries. 
  • Secrets should have something to do with the story, even if they are small. 
  • Buildings or other objects can "keep secrets". Most of the time, its just hiding something. 
  • Secrets will always change someone's life or at least change how someone thinks about the character. 
  • Reveal the secret when the time is right. And don't reveal it right away unless it's important for the story. 
So, has a secret ever greatly affected your life or the life of someone you know?


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