the “secret” to good characters
I recently read a blog post about how the secrets that a characters keep makes the story much better. I began thinking about it because my first reaction was that none of m characters have any good secrets. However, I found myself proven wrong.
I realized this when I began looking at my arranged marriage plot. In the first plot, the guy looked interesting to write for, because he has the secret of his deformity. The maid would be interesting to write for, because she has her secret love and the possibility of of a child from an earlier marriage. (i’ve been toying with that idea too.) But the girl who marries him at first doesn’t have anything fun because she doesn’t have anything she’s keeping from anyone else.
Which brought me to my second plot, which involved the guy keeping the secret from his family and the girl about his disability and the girl keeping it from him about her love of his brother. (I’m trying to work on a big bang ending for that one, by the way. I think it might be interesting.)
But it isn’t just this new story that I discovered the secret thing about. In Hope, I had the whole secret that the reader didn’t know about who Hope was and who Ka’yam was, which ends up being told in due time.
Giant’s Wife had them both keeping the language from each other, and Heddwyn keeping his past from her, more or less.
Dragon Slayers has an interesting one involve Justin which I shall not tell you yet. (I promise I will edit that soon and post it.)
Kontyo had the secret, although unknown to him, that he couldn’t go back home.
In fact, when I look at it, almost all good plots focus around a bunch of very well crafted secrets while having a bunch of very interesting characters.
However, that isn’t the whole entire part of how to do it properly. The secrets can’t be told all at once in the beginning. The secrets want to be stretched across a series of chapters, preferably the whole length of the book. I don’t think the end of Hope would have been as interesting as it was if I didn’t have the reader find out the Ka’yams real background nor do I think it would have worked if the reader didn’t find out about Hope where the reader did.
Part of it does take skill figuring out where to tell the plot and where not to. Part of I think just will flow out when it should. Sometimes, I find, if it is a really big secret, I’ll have it planned out long before I write the scene. It’s exciting, both to me as a writer and hopefully to the reader.
So, when it comes down to it, the secret of having awesome characters that you want to write for is that they have secrets themselves. Sometimes, you’ll find the characters keep the secrets even from you too.