Tag Archives: Secrets

Discovering My Characters’ Secrets

13 Feb

Every human being has secrets. Why we hide the truth (or lies) from others and sometimes ourselves is often the most interesting part behind a good secret, but understanding what makes up a secret can help an author write a character in a more genuine way.

So what should we know about our characters’ secrets?

  1. The secret itself: Sounds simple, but it’s not always clear. Sometimes, a protagonist might not even know what his or her own secrets are. Sometimes, a secret hardly seems like a secret at all. Think about the lengths a character goes through to keep it a secret. Is it difficult to hide or hiding in plain sight? What about this secret makes your character feel human?
  2. Who it is a secret from?: Not all secrets are hidden from everyone a character holds dear. Sometimes, they even hide secrets from themselves or from the one person you’d think they’d tell it to first. Sometimes, they aren’t even hiding it at all, but no one is listening.
  3. Why is it a secret?: What are the potential consequences of telling said secret? Consider who they are hiding it from again and why they are hiding it from that specific person. Are the consequences even “real”, or is your character overreacting, unsure, or simply too used to keeping it to themselves? There is a million reasons humans keep secrets: to protect loved ones, to shelter themselves, to build friendships. “Why” can be silly, fun, maddening, or wonderful. It doesn’t always have to be sad or scary.

By understanding these three aspects, an author can shape the scene to expose a character in a meaningful way. We can foreshadow reveals or build up relationships between others. We can even surprise ourselves.

You can also learn a character's secret from another character!

You can also learn a character’s secret from another character!

Listen. I’m a plotter. I have been my entire life. But even then, there comes a time in the writing process where characters turn every plot point on its head and tell us to go another direction.

Considering we’re talking about secrets, it might seem strange for me to tell writers to trust their characters, but trust is everything. Learn to listen to that little voice inside your head (or all your characters’ voices) when it tells you where to go, what not to do, and how to say it. Why? Because they know everything, and often, you don’t. Even though writers create a novel, most writers will tell you they are not in charge. The characters are. By letting go of control, you can let your characters reveal themselves naturally and over time. Yes, even if that means you’ll be rewriting a lot more or editing for what feels like forever. If it’s the right secret, it will be worth it.

Recently, I came to a scene where my protagonist explained part of her past, but by her own admission, she was absent from a scene she should’ve been in. When I stepped back and asked her where she was, she smiled back. A sly smile. One that told me it was a secret. For now. I sighed, but resigned myself to her personality.

If she’s not ready to tell me, she’s not ready to tell me.

I’ve been writing long enough to know when to trust my character’s silence, even when I loathe it, even when it promises longer hours of editing in the months ahead.

Discovering the right secret is worth rewriting. Figuring them out is even better.

~SAT

#SATurdate: Lore, New Office, Paint Swatches, & Snow White

26 Mar

12718001_1008531982527316_2805994555122682398_nI moved this week to a brand-new office! I’m super excited about it. I have a ridiculous amount of room to spread out, and I’m hoping I can get a bigger desk one of these days. My current one was great for my previous, much smaller office, but now I can spin! I need to be able to roll back and forth for no reason other than dramatics. On a side note, my Sticky Notes did not survive the move. I’m challenging my Maggie Stiefvater and remembering that ideas do not make the author, the author makes the ideas. (Check out her article The Disposability of Ideas.) Plus…I sort of cheated and took pictures of them before they were ruined. I’m not quite at Stiefvater’s level. (But, really, who is? She’s a goddess. [Okay. I’ll stop being an obsessive fangirl now.])

What I’m Writing:

993078_1006450089402172_901225323950707552_nSo Take Me Yesterday was put aside this week. I worked solely on the mysterious manuscript known as “D.” I actually wrote D when I was 19, but numerous elements were missing until recently. Now I’m 18,000 words into the rewrite, which is awesome. I have 62,000 additional words already typed from the original manuscript, so it’s really a matter of cutting and pasting and editing and screaming at my 19-year-old self for not figuring out the missing elements…you know…until I was 24. (*Repeats to myself* It’s not a race, it’s not a race, it’s not a race.) I also shared a bit of “research” I was conducting, via my paint pallets. D is an extremely colorful novel. It’s difficult to explain without giving away the plot, but it’s been a lot of fun flipping through the colors while editing old scenes and adding new ones. On a side note, I also took some time to world-build a brand-new novel I shall call S for now. S is—more or less—something I’m currently writing for fun. Like a reset novel. A novel with no pressure to finish or to pursue publication with. Sometimes working on something brand-new with no deadlines or expectations helps me reset my writer buttons. But the more I work on it, the more I love it. </3 Gah! Decisions…

What I’m Publishing:

This week, I shared the content disclosure for November Snow, so I thought you’d like to know our rankings. If you need a handy guide about what these rankings mean, click here to check out November’s Snow disclosure system:

11987_1007269949320186_6557017595173577508_nFirst off, November Snow was rated YA(m) – Young Adult Mature – which means it’s written for a mature young adult audience.

Romance: 2: The romance picks up in book 2, compared to book 1.

Violence: 5: Also, no surprise here. Bad Bloods is a fairly violent duology, revolving around a political debate eradicating an entire group of people, which mainly consists of homeless children…but I promise you, the violence is not as graphic as the original book? Okay. That’s not saying much. But there is meaning behind it. The violence isn’t gratuitous.

Language: 3: Still cursing a little bit…but I mean, you’re talking about kids trying to NOT be killed all the time, so let’s give them break, yeah?

Drugs/Alcohol/Smoking: 0: No drug or alcohol use in the second part of the duology.

The #1lineWed preview was lines from page 23 or 123. This line is from page 23.

He confessed it like secrets were simply to share.

Add Bad Bloods to Goodreads: November Rain and November Snow

Visit the Facebook, Pinterest, and the Extras page.

Coming soon!

Coming soon!

What I’m Reading:

I’m reading The Young Elites by Marie Lu! I’m almost finished, and I must say, I definitely love Marie Lu. I was also envious of her trip to Tokyo this past week with Amie Kaufman, author of These Broken Stars (which I also loved). I mean, they went to an owl café. An OWL CAFÉ. This is one of my ultimate dreams. I’m dying of owl envy.

What I’m Listening To:

MxdXdQrTLore is my latest podcast obsession. It’s a bit like Myths & Legends, but shorter and creepier. Lore also focuses on overall myths, like vampires/werewolves, while Myths & Legends discusses tales like King Arthur. I highly recommend both of them.

What I’m Watching:

Akagami no Shirayuki-hime—a.k.a. Snow White with the Red Hair—which happens to be one of my favorite mangas. I had no idea it’d been made into an anime, so I binge-watched season one, and I’m enjoying season two now that it’s releasing. Love them! And Louie. I watched that, too.

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What I’m Baking, Making, and Drinking:

I learned how to make homemade spaghetti sauce, which was awesome…and very messy when I accidentally dropped some of the tomato puree on the kitchen floor.

What I’m Wearing:

10399523_1009113812469133_5506393239089674635_nShorts one day and coats the next. Seriously. This winter-to-spring weather is a strange mix of sunshine and misery.

What I’m Wanting:

A new desk! Preferably a larger one. One that will allow me to write on notebook paper and type on my computer at the same time…Oh! And hold coffee. I would REALLY like a nice bookshelf, too, since well—and don’t hate me—my books are sitting on the floor. I have yet to move my bookshelves from my second-to-last move. What can I say? I move a lot.

What I’m Dreaming Of:

I bought a new cat, and I named it Happy…after my broomstick, also named Happy, because sweeping made me happy? (I don’t know.) But then my friend showed up and also bought a cat, and upon hearing my name for my new cat, she named her new cat Happy…and none of this made me happy at all.

What Else Is Going On:

Death Before Daylight is on sale for $3.99 right now! That’s pretty neat. That means you can read the entire Timely Death Trilogy for only $8.00…which costs less than one of those novelty horse masks. You know. Those ones.

~SAT

To celebrate, the sale of Death Before Daylight, here’s an excerpt!

DBDcoverShe moved again, barely, but she moved. “I can handle myself in a fight.”

“You’re okay in a fight,” I teased, watching the aggravation flicker over her gaze.

She squirmed again, trying to kick my leg with her boot. “Okay?” she repeated. “Just okay? I do better than okay.” She wasn’t lying. “You would be nothing without my help.”

“Oh, low blows,” I sang, forcing her shadows to solidify again. “You are mad.”

“I’m determined,” she corrected.

“I never argued with you,” I pointed out. “You make me who I am. I wouldn’t be anything without you.”

“Aw,” she cooed, smiling at my words, but right when I thought she was enjoying our time together, she swung her leg over and knocked my torso off her. This time, she was the one on top. “I win.”

I winced, stretching my neck to breathe. “You know, most girlfriends would have thought that was romantic.”

Read Minutes Before Sunset, book 1, for FREE

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Seconds Before Sunrise: book 2:

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Death Before Daylight: book 3:

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Author Confessions on my YouTube Channel

3 Apr

ShannonAThompson.com hit 15,000 followers! Thank you for continuing to support my writing dream. You are the reason I can share my stories with the world. You are the reason I have met so many wonderful readers, writers, and dreamers. You are the reason because you are the dream. From my dreaming soul, thank you. 

15000

Ever wanted to write a love story? Have you written a love story but want to see how other writers have done it? I’m really hoping you answered “yes” to one of those questions, because you’re in luck! Read to Write Stories is a fantastic website that literally explains how to read to write stories. Michael Noll reads a story and then creates a prompt in order to write a story. Recently, Read to Write Stories wrote  “How to Write a Love Story” with examples from Seconds Before Sunrise.

If you’re interested in reading a review of Seconds Before Sunrise, The Bookie Monster released their thoughts, stating, “I’ve found that the success of trilogies seems to be contingent on how well the second book is received.  If the second book is a disaster, readers don’t want to waste their time waiting and reading the third book.  If the second book is a success, readers will stand in line to wait for the third book.  I think that this trilogy definitely falls into the latter category.  Bravo Ms. Thompson!  You are on your way to having a very successful trilogy on your hands!” Read the entire review by clicking here.

I told you. I did it. I have a YouTube channel, which I have recently named “Coffee and Cats” – and I posted my first video. I have more waiting to be uploaded, too, so I am excited to venture out into the YouTube world. This will be my only video with an intro. If you subscribe, you will actually get to see my videos one day early. That’s my little gift to those who click the big red “subscribe” button. (You might also get dibs on being a guest. Hint. Hint.)

Today, we’re talking about Author Confessions – those little (and sometimes embarrassing) secrets authors have. So, get behind the scenes, check it out, and tell me your secrets in the comments below here or there. Mine might just involve weird hats and frogs…Okay. So they involve weird hats and frogs. I’m not sure how else I can tempt you. Temptation has been activated.

I am working hard to be able to afford a better camera, so any donations would be greatly appreciated. I am also planning on using my camera for helping authors and readers online, but that news will have to come out later 😀 I hope you enjoyed my first video. This is just the beginning of another, exciting journey.

~SAT

Donate to ShannonAThompson.com

Donate to ShannonAThompson.com

Writing Tips: Exposing Secrets

14 Jan

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.”

~SAT

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.

Website Wonders: PostSecret

21 Oct

Since you’re on the World Wide Web right now, I think it’s safe to assume that you spend some (if not A LOT) of your downtime on the internet. (I know I do.)

I always like suggestions of great websites to visit, whether it’s socializing, reading, inspiration, or learning in general.

Because it’s Sunday, I’d like to share my Sunday ritual websites.

PostSecret.com

Basically, the concept began when one man—Frank—laid out a bunch of postcards, and he told everyone to anonymously send in their secrets. The surprising results were nothing what he expected.

Instead of plan secrets, artistic postcards full of pictures, words, and heartbreaking revelations arrived—and every Sunday, Frank uploads an array of anonymous secrets people have mailed to him.

Everything from heartbreak, to loving proposals, to confessional habits can be read. Secrets that people have never shared with anyone may break you or make you.

In fact, you may even come across a secret that is actually yours.

Visit PostSecret.com here.

Look up his books here.

And I hope you join me every Sunday to check in with Frank and all of the secrets of this world.

One of the most shocking and emotional secrets I’ve ever seen on this website.

~SAT

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