Oct 25, 2011

Writing Secrets

I've been keeping secrets. Nothing too exciting, but the cover up and sneakiness has gotten me thinking about characters. I love having secrets in stories, either the main character is covering up a secret or they learn the truth about a long-kept secret. Sometimes I'm forced to wonder why they go to so much trouble. They can't swim? Big deal, why would that be a secret? I'm terrified of hairy spiders and am happy for everyone to know. I have abandoned a classroom of children in my frantic fleeing when a huntsmen has made his evil entrance - more than once. Even the big boys over 6ft tall know they can not intimidate me, but will squeal like a squeaky toy if a spider is anywhere near.

But there are some things I've hidden.

At school all the teachers know I'm moving to Brisbane at the end of this semester and won't be back next  year, but I find I just can not tell the kids yet. They keep quizzing me about classes next year and I've been very evasive, on the edge of lying, because I don't want to hurt their feelings. I'll miss the Yass kids.

There's another secret.

I'm scared of zombies.


I know, I wrote a teen story called MY ZOMBIE DOG, and yes, it has lots of zombies. But I'd never sat through an actually zombie horror flick because they give me the jeebies. I LOVE horror films, my favourite being HALLOWEEN (the original). I'm not squeamish and I find the slasher flicks funny. But there is something just WRONG about those glazed over eyes and the slow shuffling. 

I have so many ideas in my head for more zombie tales that I want to overcome this prejudice against the un-dead, so, in my quest to better understand zombies (sometimes called the living-impaired), I've started watching THE WALKING DEAD. Many brain-nomning fans will remember this as a pretty well known comic book series. Now we get to watch it on tv. I got so scared I kept running out of the room and all night long I dreamt of worm-filled zombies.
I have a couple of suspension of disbelief issues with this show - when shot in the head the zombies bleed. Many of them have been dead a long time and are rotting - where's the blood coming from??? And there is a scene where the cop comes across a home where the occupants committed suicide rather than become infected - on the wall above their bodies in blood is the message 'God Forgive Us'. Um, ok, maybe... but this would mean the guy shot his wife and then before completing the double suicide pact, dipped his hand in his wife's head and used her blood to write the message before shooting himself - probably having to re-dip several times. Surely a permanent marker would have been better???

So what is your character hiding? And most importantly - WHY is it a secret? Or is someone keeping a secret from them? Is it BELIEVABLE?

In MY ZOMBIE DOG, Zane's mother keeps a secret from Zane. She didn't get his dog from the pound. She didn't want him to know she got the dog for free... from a voodoo witch doctor.


  1. Characters and secrets go hand in hand.
    My characters tend to have secrets that would get them killed if they come out.
    Much harder to own up to than moving to Brisbane!

  2. LOL Al - I don't know, some of those yr8 girls can get rough!

  3. I'm pretty sure big hairy spiders is a sensible thing to be wary of. Of course it could be worse, thay could be zombie spiders!

    Moody Writing

  4. In Secondhand Shoes, B.J and Julio are hiding the fact that they do a Freaky Friday kind of thing. Julio's actually in a coma, lying in a hospital in Venezuela. B.J. is a truck driver who comes to Lila's aid on many occassions. And, her dead Gram has everything to do with it to keep her granddaughter safe from the drug-pushing family she married into.

  5. Oh and, I always dream of zombies.

  6. I love the story line of your book 'My Zombie Dog.' I want to read more. How did Zane's mum come to meet a voodoo witch doctor? When does Zane find out where the dog really came from? Oh, that's right-it's a secret.

    Secrets are good. They keep pages turning and keep readers and their nerves on end. Ahhhh!

    My son's name is Zane too-how funny!

    Keep Writing Charmaine. It sounds great!

  7. OMG, I'm sticking with picture books. Got goose bumps reading this post! So aha! You've elicited my emotions. Success!

  8. Good morning, Charmaine,

    I enjoyed this post. I like the way you structured it.

    When my daughter was very young, about two or three, she saw a spider descending on a gossamer string from my ironing board and screamed in terror. I told her it was Charlotte. She instantly calmed. Since then, spiders are welcome little creatures in our home. They keep the populations of the truly hideous bugs-- centipedes, roaches-- at bay.

    All right, now I'm done preaching, on to zombies. I have actually always harbored a deep disgust, as well. And, in one manuscript, I had a character dress up as a Zombie doll for Halloween. She claimed she was like a deteriorating Barbie doll-- aggressively anti-objectification.

    I think I put that in there for the same reason you did. I have been surprised at how many bloggers have copped up to this phobia of late, actually.

  9. Now, I really just want to read Zombie Dog!! Great post, Charmaine! :-)

  10. I just did some rereading of some of my stuff, and guess what? Sometimes my characters keep secrets from ME ... what an epiphany that was ;-)

  11. Ooh! The Walking Dead is SO AWESOME! I started watching the first season at 8 one night, and finished it at 3 am the next morning. I...kind got obsessed.

    But now I have to wait for the 2nd season to appear on Netflix. This makes me sad. :sighs:

    Cheers, good lady!

  12. Charmaine, I loved this post. It made me smile. Also, it gave me food for thought about characters and secrets. Hope your move is going smoothly.