Saturday, November 26, 2011

Family Secrets

We all have family secrets.

For example:
  • You know for a fact that your Aunt was married twice, not once. Even though she tells everyone the opposite.  
  • Cousin George really does have a sixth toe.
  • Grandpa keeps a flask of whiskey in the cushion of his chair and drinks it when he watches the game.
  • Your mother's secret recipe involves only a simple boxed cake mix and cream cheese.
  • Your uncle did not go out of town for a week, he was in jail for public intoxication and no one would post the bond.
  • Grandma farts loudly in public and blames whoever is standing next to her. This is why your nickname is "Pooter"
  • Your cousin is actually your brother....*gasp*
These family secrets can range from the funny to the horrific. They can be immoral, unethical, or just embarrassing. The interesting thing is our families will keep these secrets in any way possible. They'll never speak of it, or they'll lie, deny, and even cover it up. It is what makes the family functions full of drama.

Our characters in our stories and their families all have secrets. Even if you don't know them. They are what motivate our Heroes and Heroines. They help in the conflict and create the tension that leads to interesting things.

What kind of secrets personally and family wise do your characters have? Do you ever reveal them or just keep them internal? Are some funny ones or scary?


Christine said...

I love secrets. Bwah haha... And my family had plenty. I do, too. People keep plying me with champagne to get me to spill. But really? I just tell "new" secrets. My characters are just as cagey.

Great post.


Carla Swafford said...

Oh, I like this, Mary. Though I couldn't tell my personal family secrets here (they wouldn't be secret then) and goodness knows there are hundreds of them.

But I agree. Secrets are what makes a story good. Even if they don't actually come out fully in the story, knowing those skeletons help give the characters depth.

M.V.Freeman said...

Thanks Christine,

I love characters that are cagey--that adds to the tension.

And "new" secrets are the best...:)

M.V.Freeman said...

Thanks Carla!

I totally agree, its never good to take personal secrets and tell them. But the depth they add to characters is amazing.

It's one of the reasons I like fiction..:) And I know you write some delightfully dark books. ;-)

Lexi said...

My family lives in Dysfunction Junction. It's what makes us interesting. My characters have crazy families too. Love to write the layers that come with such nuttiness. Interesting post, Mary.

M.V.Freeman said...

You're right, it would certainly be boring if these secrets weren't layered in.

Are you tempted to fictionalize certain personal experiences? ;)

Cari Hislop said...

I love discovering how different people view the same "secret" which often isn't as secret as the people who cringe at it think it is.

One of my heroes (an ultra private person) nearly dies of horror when he learns the entire village knows more than he does about his sex life (or rather his non existent sex life). When you servants and have no secrets!

I find the unraveling layers of "truth" (or what each character thinks is the truth) endlessly fascinating.

M.V.Freeman said...

I totally agree with you. Sometimes a secret is a well-known one (and quite amusing for the rest of us--unless its your secret)

Your hero sounds like fun!;-)

Louisa Cornell said...

Ah yes! In the South you don't ask if there is insanity in the family. You just ask which side it's on!

My characters are LOADED with family secrets. Stepsisters who cover up a murder to protect someone they love. A heroine who has paranormal powers she suppresses because she knows they will result in the loss of her position.

My current WIP, which is a sort of Jane Austen meets the Addams Family story features a family with more secrets than the CIA and more characters than a Quentin Tarentino film!

Secrets make for great stories and for great conflict when they come out at the most inopportune moments. And they ALWAYS come out!

M.V.Freeman said...

I'm terribly intrigued about your story--you're right too, the best part is the secrets eventually come out. :)

I love historicals with a touch of paranormal....

Cari Hislop said...

Louisa, your story sounds totally awesome. I hope you find a publisher soon so we can read it! I'm still wondering what happened to the heroine with the pet snake...