Author's Secrets

I don't know about you, but I don't like to feel as if someone is hiding something from me.

Now, I don't mind secrets. Secrets are fun. Secrets are meant to be kept. But secrets are also told. They are whispered here and there, and I can grasp snippets of the truth, even if I'm kept guessing.

But I hate it when someone hides something from me.

Do you know the feeling? When you're in the middle of a really great novel, disasters popping up left and right, slowly destroying the hero's world . . .

And yet you can't escape the nagging feeling that something is being hidden from you.

It's an odd feeling, one that's hard to describe. If I could pick one word for it, I'd say 'contrived'. Or maybe even 'distanced'. You feel as though every character is held ten feet away from you - even the hero - so that none of their reactions feel genuine or real. You're never quite sure what's going on inside their heads . . . but it's not because they are reclusive characters. The characters aren't keeping secrets. The characters themselves are secrets. It's almost as if they want to tell their story, but someone on the outside isn't letting them.

These sorts secrets are the fault of the author, not the character.  It's a nagging tendency, when I'm  caught up in a really interesting idea, or an in-depth plot, or a fast-paced action scene, to loose the reality of the characters. I get too fixated on the story and so I refuse to let the story's characters be themselves. But, if I neglect to do that, then the story isn't really a story at all.

Actually, though we say "a story's characters" - if you think about it, the characters don't belong to the story. The story belongs to the characters. The events of the story are all contingent on what they decide to do, not what the author decides should happen. Without them, there would be no story. So it's best to let them do what they will, I think.

So, from now on, I'll be saying "the character's story", and I won't make them keep any secrets! 

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