I’m taking a plotting from a character class. One of the suggestions the instructor made was … Give every character a secret. This may or may not come out. Either way, it shapes the character. This could be a secret fear, sexual fantasy, hidden lie, or a guilty pleasure. The secret doesn’t have to relate to the plot, but it’s stronger if it relates to the theme (more on that later).
I’ve never done this unless the secret is pivotal to the story… this sort of falls into the plotting category when it’s just a secret for a sake of a secret that sort of like figuring out what is your characters favorite childhood book…
Now I totally believe you, as the writer, need to know your character to write him/her effectively. I remember when I first started writing, I’d fill out these 3 to 5 page character sheets. Oh My Hairy Frogs!!!! As a pantsers, this was a torture beyond a life without doughnuts.
Now as I thought about this, I found I could see this as merit for SOME characters that I develop. For example, a character who has desire to have sex in ‘easy to discover places’ this ‘kink’ could come from watching her best friend have sex as teen. In a non-creepy way. This secret wouldn’t have to be revealed to the reader but as the writer, I understand the character’s motive and that may lend to a stronger development.
I’d love to hear what you think about giving every character a secret.