Everyone has secrets, but some more than others. A new dating series has been added to Netflix lately, Rea(l)ove. What sets this series apart is that each candidate has a dark secret that will be revealed sometime during the show, although no one knows when and who will be the next confessor. This adds a new dimension to the dating scene since the secrets tell more about a person than they might reveal in the first year or two.
It’s interesting how people interact with each other after they reveal their dark secret or if only one of them revealed it. A dark secret revealed shows the soul of someone. It’s not just about what the dark secret is, it’s also what the person does with it.
Your Characters Need A Dark Secret
Humans are flawed and perfect is definitely boring. Giving your character a dark secret is another way of making your character more interesting. It gives the character another layer and a possibility to turn bad or redeem themselves. That’s another opportunity for you as a writer to create a subplot.
The air of mystery around a character is why we keep reading. Plant the seed early, but don’t spoil it too soon. Make it a climax, either paired with the climax of your main storyline or give it its own moment.
In ‘The Dark Gifts’-series by Vic James, Silyen has a dark secret and everyone is wary of him. Throughout the books, you’ll learn more about his power and what he does, but we’ve yet to find out why he did everything. The last book, Bright Ruin, will hopefully clarify it.
Twitter is filled with fans of Silyen, yours truly included. The mystery man has us in his power, even though we know he’s up to no good. James has done an excellent job at planting seeds, watering it, and hopefully, it will bloom into the most beautiful but deadly flower there is.
Good Turning Bad
Even the best can turn bad under the right circumstances. The first time I saw Anakin, I wouldn’t believe he would be the villain in his own trilogy, but by the end of Episode Three, it did make sense.
A dark secret can be life-changing. Especially the reason, motivation or cause of that secret. It can be love, money, power, naivety, ignorance, desperation. It’s also what says the most about a person. What do they value so much, that they would give up their life, or their life as it is?
For Anakin the motivator was love. He loved his mother so much, that in his anger he killed all the Tuskan Raiders. Later it is his love for Padmé to go to the dark side. His secrets are being told on screen, but in the first trilogy, these were Darth Vader’s dark secrets.
The biggest story about a villain who turned out to be a hero is, of course, Severus Snape. He kept his secret from everyone, including the dark lord himself, pretending to be a Death Eater while he was working with Dumbledore to keep Harry save. Snape went from hated villain to most beloved character in one scene by revealing his secret.
Use a character’s secret to create mystery. Use it to drive forward your story. Give a character a secret when you’re stuck. It’ll open up new opportunities and maybe you’ll find the ending you were looking for.
What’s the darkest secret in fiction? How would you handle carrying such a secret? Share your thoughts, or darkest secrets, in the comments below.