Secrets, Details, & Gibran

Khalil Gibran (April 1913)

Khalil Gibran (April 1913)

The reality of the other person is not in what he reveals to you, but in what he cannot reveal to you. Therefore, if you would understand him, listen not to what he says but rather what he does not say.” – Kahlil Gibran

In real life, unspoken words create one of the biggest and most interesting mysteries about other people. We all find other people’s secrets to be far more interesting than what people choose to share openly.

In your writing, the “unspoken” is of equal importance. It is easy to forget as we focus and obsess over not only imagining a story full of characters and plot and environment and other details, but what details we want to include at what scene, etc.

There’s so much included in our words we “reveal”, we forget that what a character chooses not to say can be just as important.

Taken with a grain of salt, this tactic can greatly enhance your exposition writing. Amateur writers often present all their information at the beginning of their story, boring the reader and lacking to draw in an engaged audience.

Your reader wants to know the story, but the best way to keep your reader turning pages is by tantalizing him or her. Tease them with hints of secrets, and they will be guessing at what lies just underneath the surface of your story with each new page, each new chapter, and ultimately, each new book.

I’m not saying keep everything from your reader. Explore basic rules of your universe, give key character points about your protagonist and/or your antagonist, but don’t forget to leave those hints.

Remember that your reader wants to feel as though he is smart enough to navigate your cleverly written puzzles. If you just reveal everything right away, your reader will be get bored. The writer isn’t engaging his mind.

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