Whether you’re a fiction writer or professional editor, this series is for you!
Whenever a character learns new information, they should make a decision or change their course of action.
Discover how to use the element “Revelation” in a fiction story and learn how you can improve your writing now.
In this episode, Kristina Stanley from Fictionary joins us again on the 38 Story Elements to cover revelation and what it means to the writer and reader.
This is when a character learns something that forces them to react. The character doesn’t necessarily have to be the protagonist, but they do have to react to the revelation in some way, such as having an emotional response or changing their course of action. It’s also critical that key revelations are related to the overall story.
How do we know when a revelation is happening?
When you’re reviewing your scenes, search for key pieces of information that come out. If such information impacts the characters, then it is a revelation. If it doesn’t, then it’s just a piece of the scene. Also, if the characters change their course of action because of this piece of information, then you know it’s an important revelation.
Here’s an example of a revelation. Let’s say there’s a couple having dinner in a restaurant. The husband is having an affair, and the wife knows it, but she hasn’t revealed it yet to him. So, they’re having this nice dinner, and in walks the woman he’s having an
affair with. The husband has been trying to keep his marriage together, but at this point, the wife can’t contain herself anymore, and she lets it rip. She reveals to him that she knows about the affair, and now he has to react in some way: he’s either going to continue with his current course of action to keep his marriage together or he’s going to do something that will rip the whole thing apart.
Not all characters in a scene need to react to, or even be aware of, a revelation. It depends on the story. For example, in the scene above, we don’t care what the server thinks, unless, of course, the server is one of the couple’s children. But if the server is just a server, then finding out about the affair might be interesting to them, but it’s not a revelation.
Looking for plot holes related to revelation
To ensure that your revelations are working effectively, keep track of where they occur and who is in the scene when they do. That way, when a character in a future scene references the revelation, you can go back and check to see if they were actually in the scene where the information was revealed. If they weren’t and nobody told them about it, they can’t react to it.
This is a great way to close plot holes. You need to keep track not only of the revelation but who knows it, because it can help you identify why scenes lack tension. For example, something might have been revealed too early so everybody knows about it, and the suspense is gone, and the conflict has happened, and now readers are not worried about it.
You can also identify if something is revealed too late. When this happens, it can be confusing or take away tension because no one knows about the revelation and there’s no baseline for tension in the scene. The other thing to make sure of is that big revelations are followed up on. By marking down every important revelation in your story, you can go back and see if you’ve resolved them by the end, thus avoiding plot holes
Keep track of all revelations in the story. There doesn’t have to be one in every scene, but you need to know which scenes they are in, which characters are in those scenes, and if they are affecting tension and conflict. This will help you eliminate plot holes and create the seamless story readers are looking for.
If this chapter helps you, feel free to share it and let us know your insights as we go along this writing journey.
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