Everyone has secrets, whether it’s that they killed someone or were molested years before or even that they accidentally broke the expensive vase their mother-in-law gave them as a wedding gift. Each secret, no matter how small or large, affects their relationship with someone. A man who has killed another may always be looking over his shoulder, slightly paranoid to an extent or may crave another kill. A child molested may have trouble connecting emotionally or trusting and may go from lover to lover all their life unless someone can get through to them. Breaking the mother-in-law’s expensive vase may mean your character doesn’t invite her over or has to invent reasons the gift isn’t on display. Many secrets kept are things the character has done or had done to them but people also have “family skeletons,” things their family did that they don’t talk about, like that their grandfather or uncle was a well known domestic terrorist or not talking about the death of a sibling. Such secrets can separate families or cause tension at gatherings. Maybe the gatherings are awkward because of the many silences at the table. Maybe they’re awkward because everyone tries so hard to be cheery to avoid the conversation they most need.
When thinking about your fictional character, remember everyone has secrets. Know its secrets and you’ll learn another motivation in your character’s life. Can you think of how some of the secrets in your life have affected you or the relationships you’ve had with others?