To Write a Secret Passage

by Cooper Young

I have come to a point in my fine-tuning of Descent where I have been forced to wonder how much the reader should really be allowed to know the characters.  Very well, certainly, else there would be no sense of attachment, but should the reader be permitted to know that which a character might be hesitant to tell them face-to-face, that which is relevant only to that character as an individual and not to the story as a whole?  What the author knows influences the choices and personality of the character; must the reader know every motivation?

Take, for example, the case of J.K. Rowling’s Dumbledore.  The readers had no knowledge of his sexuality through the reading of her books.  Did it change the character once revealed?  Of course not; he had always been gay; it was simply that she was the only one who knew so.  He was written through that lens and so it shaped him, whether or not the readers knew what forces were at work.   At her outing of him there were some who were excited and some who were disillusioned, but there was also a great mass of people (including myself) who shrugged and said “Oh.  Who cares?  It isn’t relevant.”

My dilemma is this: I know things about my characters which, while they would color the reader’s perception, will not change the plot of the story.  I have come to a point (specifically, to the end of chapter twelve) where I must either speak or hold my tongue because, if I speak, it is the logical point for such a revelation.  I must decide if it is relevant, if it is necessary, and if the reader would resent, forgive, or demand my discretion.

I suppose the first step is to write the aforementioned revelation.  Then it will be easier to decide.