Ever since I posted “Writing Tips: How I Form Dialogue into Writing” I’ve gotten a lot of emails asking for other tips, so I wanted to talk about secrets.
We all have them.
Secrets can make us or destroy us—they can tear our relationships apart or allow us to succeed at our dreams. In reality, secrets can really form who you are by asking the question: Why are we keeping them? What is stopping us from sharing them? Are we afraid we’ll be rejected? Are we shamed? Could it ruin someone we love?
There is an infinite amount of reasons as to why we keep and/or tell secrets.
So what about your characters?
In my opinion, I think every character should have a secret. Even if the secret isn’t exposed in the novel, it will round them out and push them deeper into the plot.
However, your characters’ secrets don’t need to be exposed all at once. That’s a huge pet peeve of mine. Secrets should be stretched over the plot, enticing the reader to relate while learning more about your story’s characters.
As an example, I’m adding November Snow character notes below this. First, you’ll see their name, a brief description, and then the page number where their biggest secret is revealed. November Snow is 600 pages long, so pay careful attention to how the secrets span out. Who is exposed first? Why do you think that is? How do you think the timing effects the other characters (and even the reader)?
Serena, the heroine, is the Southern Flock’s second-in-command. She’s a 17-year-old bad blood, and her POV is challenged by her love for Daniel. (Page: 573)
Daniel, the male protagonist, is the leader of Northern Flock, and his 18-year-old POV struggles against society’s hatred for bad bloods. (Page: 459)
Calhoun Wilson saved Daniel’s life when he was five years old. Despite being a former solider, he protects the Northern Flock from the government. (Page: 282)
Caitlin: Serena’s best friends and practical sister. (Page: 527)
Henderson: The candidate running for president of Vendona. He believes in equal rights for bad bloods. (Page: 275)
Ryan: A young bad blood in the Northern Flock who’s body heats up like fire. (Page: 585)
I hope this shows how secrets can be revealed over a span of time—rather than all at the end of the novel. Some should come early, while others shouldn’t be exposed, but these characters’ secrets are essential to November Snow by defining the characters, their troubles, and their hope for beating them.
As I wrote in November Snow: “No one wanted to die with secrets in their grave.”
As an extra: November Snow‘s highest rated quote on Goodreads: “I would only blame myself if something happened to you.”
If you’re interested in other quotes from November Snow, click here.