I spent last week at karate camp, where much of my time was given to coaching upcoming black belt candidates on kata and self-defense. (Sparring isn’t part of our testing process.) Black belt candidates are my favorite group to teach. Despite the heat and humidity, the week flew by.
An added benefit of karate camp–the hours coaching students on the strategy of defending against multiple attackers, other hours considering the best strategies to communicate with parents, and yet more hours determining what motivates kids to make good choices under tough circumstances–was the ability to see my plotting with a sharper eye.
So why doesn’t Syrina tell her Big Secret to the exiles at the earliest opportunity?
Because I hadn’t thought to do that in the first draft, then just let that choice ride through all subsequent revisions.
Why did I let it ride?
Because I couldn’t figure out and manage the consequences of her revealing the Big Secret.
Then I began to wonder about that last answer. How many stories have a “Why didn’t she just do X?” moment because the writer was unable to think through the consequences of X? Because the writer cannot–due to inexperience–see what would follow said revelation? (And I mention inexperience because I found those at the foundation of my own un-choices.) How much of it is a hesitation to reveal because, in real life, the writer would herself hesitate to face the changes such a revelation would cause?
Or is it just me?
So now I’m on a kick of analyzing my “revelation” choices all over the place–determining if keeping a secret enhances the plot or manipulates it. Looking at the reasons behind the choices. Forcing myself to consider if the choices were made for convenience.
In this case, revealing the Big Secret creates a massive ground shift in the motivation and outlook of several characters, and greatly alters the reasons later choices are made. But–as with the worldbuilding changes I made earlier–it doesn’t change the story I wanted to tell.
Oddly enough, I chose to work on Sand of Bone because I thought it would be a relatively simple task to edit. Instead, I’ve opened the Pandora’s Box of revisions.