Friday, July 8th, 2011

Writing Prompt: Secrets

He that has eyes to see and ears to hear may convince himself that no mortal can keep a secret. If his lips are silent, he chatters with his fingertips; betrayal oozes out of him at every pore. ~ Sigmund Freud

Have you ever been in a room full of people and watched one person bend toward another and whisper something secret ?

(Maybe it wasn’t a secret at all. Maybe one friend was telling another very quietly that she had broccoli stuck in her teeth from lunch. Well, it certainly didn’t look that way! They have secrets, those two!)

There’s something about even the perception of a secret that charges the atmosphere in a room.

Who’s got the secret? What is it? Who will it affect? What does it mean to me?

As soon as some bit of information is perceived as “secret,” it becomes more desirous to know.

People act differently when they have a secret: they’re guarded and their body language mimics this closed fortress, arms crossed across the chest, legs crossed over knees or shoulders hunched in protection against the middle. Some folks are smug, wearing that “cat that ate the canary” smile and lording it over others. Some act frightened of what they know. Some are just full of energy, bursting to tell someone else what they’ve learned.

Secrets are a wonderful plot device. They can be uncovered, confessed, or created. They can be non-existent, with that fact known to all but the major characters. They can be a thing of joy, of horror, of shame, or any other feeling. They can control.

Here’s Your Prompt: Write about a secret. It can be one of yours, or one of your characters. It could be something pragmatic: the secret to making the tastiest fried chicken, or, the secret to brushing your teeth well.

Write about the secret you: the person you are when no one’s around. The person you secretly want to be. The person you are, but no one realizes…

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