The juice of a story manifests when a character’s fatal flaw begins to cause skeletons in his closet.

Two ways this happens: Secrets and Lies.

Secrets and lies create false realities. Lying is the obvious form of betrayal. But even keeping secrets can create betrayal. For example, in my story, Josh who’s in a struggling relationship, asks his girlfriend, Em, to come on an adventure with him. He advertises the adventure by saying, “Hey, Em, look, this trip, this spark of excitement, could be what we need to save our relationship.” His secret, however, is he needs Em to travel with him because in order to enter the community that he wants to visit, he’s required to have a female partner. So in reality, he couldn’t go without Em. So under this pretense, they will travel together and spend months there, until eventually, Em finds out his intentions weren’t to save the relationship but for his work. Spooked, she learns she’s been living a lie.

By exploring secrets and lies, we can discover where realities begin to diverge and can push that even more until we break one of our characters, spook them so much that they are unable to recover. Because it’s only from that space that we learn to change.

Happy Halloween.