Can you keep a secret
I don't suppose you can
You mustn't laugh
You mustn't cry
But do the best you can....

We all have secrets. It's only natural. Some secrets are little and quite innocent (like hiding chocolate in the veggie drawer in the fridge), or planning a semi-surprise birthday party...some secrets are huge. The little ones don't attract much attention. You may get a 'why didn't you tell me?'..or 'I knew that already'.

The big secrets are usually much more powerful. These secrets could be anything from affairs and leading secret lives, to abortions and having children no one knows about, being married before (or even still married), to stealing and theft, being addicted to a substance or pursuit... or even murder.

It's human nature to have secrets. There is always something we keep to ourselves. Whether we are ashamed or embarrassed, or know it could hurt someone else, or even ourselves.

The important thing is to ensure our characters have secrets too.

There is nothing more boring than reading about a character and finding them two dimensional. They have no depth or qualities that force you to care about them. Mere paper cutouts that walk where the author wants them to go and speak what the author wants them to say.

Every character must have secrets. Some secrets will be small. In one piece I'm working on the main character takes money out of her mother's purse. Not a lot of money, just enough to go unnoticed. You learn soon afterwards why she does this.

Much later in the book you learn of a huge secret. One she has kept from others but more importantly, one she has kept from herself. And this secret is what has changed her, formed her into the character she is now.

Secrets offer an insight into our characters. Do they keep it to themselves or do they share it? Is the secret about them or is it about someone else? Who could be hurt if the secret came out? Whose secret is it?

Secrets add intrigue and drama to a story. They help to create suspense, build distrust between people. Which of course reveals more about our characters. 

And secrets can either bring people together...or force them apart.  

There are no new secrets. Go to any of those websites where people post their secrets (anonymously) and they are quite repetitive. I'm having an affair/ I'm gay / I had an abortion / I'm already married / I stole a car / I slept with my best friend / I pay for prostitutes / I stole from my workplace / I'm into internet porn / I have another family / I had a child I've never told my husband about / I'm addicted to ice / gambling / the pokies....

But what they all have in common is that they make us human. Which is what we want our characters to be. 


I have no idea who Maurice was... don't know if anyone does. He kept his secrets safe.


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