Scene Prompt #29: The Secret

Do any of your characters have a secret? Let’s see if we can add/deepen some secrets. No promises this is going to prompt a scene, but it could prompt several scenes.

You may already know your story’s secret, but if you don’t . . .

When I don’t know what I’m doing, I generally fall back on the 5 Ws. Several layers of 5 Ws. In fact, I think I’m just going to write out some questions and you can take it from there.

What kind of secret is it?

  • A feel good secret (secret crushes, for example)
  • A feel bad secret (something shameful, embarrassing, or illegal)
  • Does it center around an action, some words, a fact of existence?

What’s the secret?

  • Who all is the secret about?
  • When did/will the secret start? How long ago? Or is it about to happen in the frontstory?
  • When did the secret end? Or is the secretive thing ongoing?
  • Where did/does this secret happen? Is there anything about the frontstory setting that can remind characters about the secret?
  • What exactly was/is done or said or planned?

What are the stakes?

  • Who knows the secret?
  • Why must they keep it secret?
  • Who’s in the dark?
  • Why can’t they find out?
  • Why must they find out?

Who do we have to worry about?

  • Who’s good at keeping the secret?
  • Who’s bad at keeping secrets?
  • Who’s forgotten the secret?
  • Who’s pushed it to the back of their mind?
  • Who’s got in at the front of the brain?
  • Who’s got it on the tip of their tongue?
  • Who suspects a secret?
  • Who’s right?
  • Who’s wrong?

How is it revealed?

  • Who finds out first, next, last?
  • When does the reader find out?
  • How does each character find out? (Physical evidence, caught red-handed, told/overheard)
  • How does the reader find out?
  • If the reader doesn’t find out for a while, what is the trail of breadcrumbs that keeps the reader interested?

That’s it for me

What about you? What things do you consider when developing secrets? Tell us in the comments!

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