We had a secret staircase.
Not a gloriously hidden one in an old castle.
If we had one of those I probably wouldn't be a writer.
The mysteries of life would already be solved.
No, our secret staircase was one of our
like passing the over sized grasshoppers churning for oil
in the flat fields, or smelling salt and coconut oil as we neared the beach.
My parents drove to the end of a neighborhood street
and abandoned their three starry-eyed mountain kids
to traverse down a maze of hidden staircases
and find ourselves by the end.
Or, at least, find our avocado green station wagon,
panting away at the bottom.
Our secret staircase.
from The Secret Garden,
illustrated by Inga Moore
Secrets can be beautiful, gossipy, or horrifying.
Secrets are what we hang our hats on as writers.
We need secrets,
to tell stories.
Questions to help unleash your story:
What are my Main Character's greatest secrets?
Who does she listen to?
Who needs her help?
What are her vices?
What does she care about?
What changes her?
Who loves her?
What Questions do you ask your story?
Do you have secret staircases,
-places or memories that represent a portal into mystery,
danger and espionage, orphans and castles,
and the great What If?
Secrets are why we read books,
why we keep turning the pages.
So, writer friends:
How do you weave secrets and mystery into your writing?
I'd love to know!
Powerfully Mysterious Picture Books:
The Secret Box - Barbara Lehman
Rainstorm - Barbara Lehman
The Mysteries of Harris Burdick - Chris Van Allsburg
Snow Moon - Nicholas Brunelle
The Secret Circus - Johanna Wright
|from The Mysteries of Harris Burdick |
by Chris Van Allsburg
Books with Deep Secrets for older readers:
The Secret Garden, by Frances Hodgson Burnett,
illustrated by Inga Moore, Candlewick Press
|from The Princess and the Goblin|
by George MacDonald, ill. Jessie Wilcox Smith
The Princess and the Goblin - George MacDonald
The Princess and Curdie - George MacDonald
Wolves of Willoughby Chase- Joan Aiken
Dragon's Keep - Janet Lee Carey