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Every story has a secret

This entry is part 34 of 43 in the series Friday Sprints

 Find a secret, unlock a story

Everyone has a secret. So it’s only natural for your characters to have them, too. A good exercise to discover more about your character is to free write about his or her’s secrets.

Good stories are filled with secrets. Often an entire novel is woven around one character’s secret. Instead of flopping down on the couch, why not grab some paper and drill into your character and find out what is really going on. Try this week’s photo to guide your imagination. Ready?

Grab a timer, paper, pen or pencil

Use fun tomato timer for sprint writing exercises

Fun kitchen timer

Freewriting exercises don’t require much. You might inject a little humor into your writing time by a fun kitchen timer. So, et a pencil and some paper, an open journal or composition book, or open a brand, spanking new computer file. Set that timer for 5 minutes. Need a timer? Try the one on the oven?

Get your character to share a secret

We all have secrets. Some of us blab our secrets to the universe on a daily basis but others hold them close. What’s your character like? Instead of picturing your character sitting on a chair and having a discussion or interrogation, why not put the two of you inside a confessional box? Take a few moments and do a little internal staging. Use the photo below as a handy guide. When you’re ready, close your eyes and imagine.

Do the freewriting exercise

Do you hear the whispers yet? Has the dialogue begun? Lead with dialogue and see what happens. Follow the talk to the emotion at the heart of your character’s secret. Write down what you experience and run with it. Use the dialogue, that emotion you feel, the imagery that lingers. Don’t forget to add the sensory detail. Start the timer and write.

Don’t stop writing to reread, edit, or question. Head for the middle and capture an end. (Afterwards, scroll past the photo below for the after-writing process.)

Artgate Fondazione Cariplo - Molteni Giuseppe, La confessione

Read and reflect

Time’s up. Go ahead and read what you wrote. Don’t make any changes. You might even want to read through the following questions, then write about the results of the writing.

  1. Do you have a secret?
  2. Describe the secret.
  3. How does it impact the character’s relationships with other characters?
  4. Does the secret impact the plot?
  5. Do you have a beginning, middle, and an end to a scene?
  6. How did the writing go?
  7. Can you use this bit of writing in your current project or use it to shape a new story?
  8. Did you have any problems doing the exercise? In what way?

That’s it. You can stop now or expand what you’re written. I hope you’ll comment below and share your thoughts. Feel free to use any Friday Sprint exercise any time.

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