Michaeline: Secrets, Secrets Never Cease

Elizabeth Bennet with the scales of justice

In Pride and Prejudice, secrets are kept from the readers, but we have a friend and guide as Elizabeth Bennet discovers the secrets and weighs the characters of Mr. Darcy and Mr. Wickham. (Image via Wikimedia Commons)

I’m not sure why, but my mind is still on secrets this week. Last week, we expressed indignation in the comments about writers who keep secrets from the readers, but I’ve been thinking about it a little more, and . . . isn’t that precisely what writers are supposed to do? The writer, by the third or fifth or fiftieth draft, knows exactly what’s going on and all the secrets in the book (in theory). The writer could reveal everything in the first paragraph and be done with it. The art and the skill comes in revealing the secrets bit by bit.

I think what we protest against is clumsiness in handling secrets. As Nancy mentioned, one way of handling it is that there must be clues, they have to make sense, and the reader shouldn’t feel duped when they discover what’s going on.

I’m re-reading Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen for the umpteenth time this week, and you’d think by now, I know all the secrets in that book so thoroughly that the story would fail to entertain. But it doesn’t . . . I still find it very hard to put the book down.

The big secret is Mr. Wickham’s true character. Continue reading

Nancy: An’ Thar Be Dragons

Darko the Dragon followed me home from the Dragon Ball and has taken up residence in my office.

Darko the Dragon followed me home from the Dragon Ball and has taken up residence in my office.

I, like many readers, am always interested in hearing how authors of my favorite stories came up with the ideas. And I rarely have a conversation with a fellow writer about our WIPs or upcoming projects without at least touching on how/when/where we got our inspiration. I have many friends who carry notebooks or tape recorders with almost everywhere so they never miss an errant seed of an idea that might someday grow into a full-fledged story.

When I’m away from my computer, I use the Evernote program, which I usually access from my smart phone, to capture thoughts until I’ve collected enough information to download into a full-fledged story folder. But even when I’m not taking notes, when I’m supposed to be focused on something totally removed from writing, that part of my brain that always wants to be telling a story collects and stores bits of information that might later show up as puzzle pieces of one or another of my plots. Continue reading