Thursday, September 24, 2009

Top Secret

Top secret- these words alone can perk up eyebrows. They conjure up all things unseen and unheard. Loosen the grasp on your chair because there shall be no secrets unearthed here. And if I gave you one, I swear you’d hit the snooze button on the ole alarm clock and get back to me. No doubt, though, everyone, including me, has at least one family or personal secret that’s a tad spicy or horrifying, or just plain odd. Odd, I say. But whatever they are, secrets have power over people who keep them. Decisions and behaviors tiptoe around them. They are weeds in the hearts soil.

No eyebrow hiking, please. Even though I thought of a juicy one, I’m still not sharing. Oh, you have Starbucks Breakfast Blend? Gosh, that’s my favorite. But no, I can’t, shouldn't. Okay then, let’s chat… wink, wink.

Now, unless you live in a cave, which some people do- I saw one for sale on the Internet, but it far exceeded my price range- then you can’t miss what happens on the news. Secrets are shared on a daily basis, some exposed, others revealed. Heck, if we’ve lived long enough, we’ve heard our share from friends and kin, which revealed just how boring we really are. Ah, what a blessing it is to be dull.

As such, let’s relate them to fictional novels we writers tell and hope to sell. Yes, we are back to fiction now, which is sometimes less weird than real life.

Our main character/character’s should have secrets. At least one. And you’re going to love this because you get to know what they are! As a matter of fact, you’d better know. Sometimes their secrets are at the heart of the story and other times they serve as a guideline to understand why your characters act the kooky ways they do. Readers don’t necessarily have to know, but we might want to clue them in if it serves the story and explains their odd or crazy behavior.

Is there a reason our protagonist hates being alone? Does he/she avoid certain family members at all costs? Why, why, why? Do they steal, cheat or lie? When each day begins do they pop pills or swig scotch on the rocks? Does your character have premonitions about future events but is too afraid to own up to her gift? Are they plucked away nightly and whisked off to Mars?

Wow, please bring them to my next party!

Seriously though, don’t hold your characters at arms length. Let them come into the light. See them for who they are. Ask the questions, welcome the answers and, wha-la, a secret or two will appear. They just might be the treasure in your story.

Now back to that party.