S – Secrets
"We dance around in a ring and suppose but the secret sits in the middle and knows." Robert Frost 1874 - 1963
The subject of secrets and undisclosed tales is, I find, quite fascinating. The fact that some of us would go to great lengths to discover what someone else’s ‘secret’ is simply says that we hate to be kept in the dark. For there is something about the human psyche that makes people want to make a secret un-secret!
Whenever anyone says something is a secret there is a deep longing- on the part of most of us – to know what that something is. It is an almost irrepressible need to know – even when it is nothing to do with us. I suppose it must be something to do with the nosey nature of human beings… But the fact remains that calling something ‘secret’ gives it an allure all its own.
That is why many stories that centre around hitherto untold ‘secrets’ can be so successful. I once read an article in a writing magazine that stated that if you had the word secret in your title or back cover blurb you would be bound to get more sales! I don’t know if that’s true but I do know that many blurbs are written that hint at secrets waiting to be discovered in a book’s pages. Readers love a good tale with a ‘secret’ expertly handled and told in a convincing way. And there is nothing more satisfying than finally discovering (often at the end of a good story) what that secret is.
A secret can also be a good tool to use to maintain suspense – especially if it’s hinted at the beginning but not stated – it leads to guessing games on the part of the reader. So if for no other reason the reader must read on to find out if they are right! Or even when the reader knows the secret but the characters do not.
Secrets can be the main thread of a story or a titillating subplot but whichever way they intrigue and fascinate which is exactly what you need to keep readers turning pages!
Do you use secrets in your stories? Are they the main plot or a sublplot?