Hoarding Plot-Reveal-Secrets Syndrome

Friends, I have a problem.

It’s called Hoarding Plot-Reveal-Secrets Syndrome.

Okay, so this is a name I made up. But whatever it is, I HAVE IT.

Let me explain.

When I’m writing a story, I have to set things up in the story before I can get to the major plot points.

Then the beginning gets longer than I planned, because I’m a disaster longwinded.

And I also have this strange thing where I ALWAYS HOARD SECRETS.

  • If there’s a big reveal about a certain character? = Hoard it.
  • If there’s a plot twist? = Hoard it.
  • If there’s a villain doing things THAT WE SHOULD KNOW STRAIGHT OFF but it’s “too early” to reveal? = Hoard it.

This results in the unfortunate tendency for nothing interesting to happen in the novel for huuuge stretches of time, as I throw in tiny hints toward said hoarded plot-reveal secrets but don’t actually put any of them in until way later in the book.

BECAUSE… SECRETS.

Because I’m saving them for later. *cough*

But this means that I DON’T INTRODUCE VITAL PLOT PIECES EARLY ON BECAUSE THEY’RE TOO “SPECIAL” TO PUT IN YET.

I don’t even know, guys. I’m a mess.

(It doesn’t help that sometimes, if I’m discovering a story as I go, and don’t have it all plotted when I start, I don’t even know the big plot points until I discover them when the heroes do…)

It’s not just one book, or anything. I’ve noticed this multiple times in my writing. It adds up to a repeated problem.

Enter Hoarding Plot-Reveal-Secrets Syndrome.

(Thank you, Doctor. No, really. You’re a huge help. -_-)

It would be like if in The Lord of the Rings, they don’t find out what the One Ring is actually for until, like, Lothlorien.

It kills me that I can’t offer specifics about my own stories to help explain this, because… spoilers. But let me be vague for you and pick one story as an example…

I’m currently writing KW2, The Secret of Kedran’s Wood. (Oh, great, there’s a secret in the TITLE. And guess what, it doesn’t get revealed until HALFWAY INTO PART THREE. I’m not even there yet. I’m even hoarding plot points from myself. Joy.)

I’m currently writing Part 2 (I always split my novels into three parts — no idea why, it just works that way so I can have bite-sized pieces).

Unfortunately, the “setup” on this novel has taken so long, that Part 1 is currently 63,522 words.

THAT’S RIGHT, THE FIRST “THIRD” OF THIS BOOK IS CURRENTLY THE SIZE OF SOME NOVELS.

I need help.

There’s a character I’m going to introduce who’s going to be hugely important to the plot, and may even steal the show from Tare (*universe stands still while audience squints and asks “IS THAT EVEN POSSIBLE?”*) and I keep putting off introducing said character. And I keep having the villains beat about the bush instead of doing THINGS. And the heroes are always trying to figure out the mysteries but they keep juuuust eluding them.

One of the problems with this… er… problem is that if the PLOT doesn’t start until halfway through the book or later, then… what is going on to start with? It’s kind of like the description on the back of a book, making you interested without “giving things away”.

While we’re on the subject, what is my summary for this book going to look like? O_O

The Secret of Kedran’s Wood by Yours Truly

In which Tare and the Chess Club do things and discover SHOCKING, EXCITING THINGS (No, really. They’re awesome.) but those are in the final third sooo we’re not going to talk about them here on the back of the book because #secrets and BECAUSE YOU NEED TO READ 100K WORDS OF RAMBLING FIRST THANKS.

Not to mention, it’s awkward when you can’t tell anybody the reason why your story is cool. Because it’s spoilers.

Or is it?

HOW DO YOU DECIDE WHAT YOU CAN TELL PEOPLE ABOUT YOUR STORY WITHOUT RUINING THE SURPRISE.

Ahem.

Y’know, I should just accept that the Kedran’s Wood series is getting longwinded and episodic and should just become a serialized book-equivalent of a TV show. Yeah. Let’s do that…

But that doesn’t solve the plot-reveal-hoarding issue for my other works.

Basically, IT’S STARTING TO BE A PROBLEM. And I have NaNo coming up and don’t want to do this to… whatever it is that I’m going to write for NaNo. (Which, incidentally, I haven’t decided yet. I’m doing it, but picking a novel? SO HARD. *cough*)

So, does anyone else have this hoarding-plot-reveal-secrets problem?

And, more importantly, WHAT IS THE CURE? O_O

I don’t want the stories to be drawn out and lack plot-reveals until the final few chapters, but howww do I sprinkle them in?

How do I stop feeling like I’m “spoiling” the story by actually, you know, revealing what’s going on every now and then?

How do I stop hoarding the juiciest bits and cackling about how I’ll get to reveal them …someday?

How do I know what I can and can’t reveal about the plot or the sequels or whatever?

HALP.

Do you suffer from Hoarding Plot-Reveal-Secrets Syndrome? Any condolences or tips for me? XD

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33 thoughts on “Hoarding Plot-Reveal-Secrets Syndrome

  1. (first of all, that Hawkeye gif made me giggle so hard xD)

    UGH I FEEL YOU ON THIS PAIN. I don’t have it as bad as you (*hands consoling pizza*), but when there’s a major plot point that I’ve been looking forward to, I GET SO SCARED TO WRITE IT. Because the “big moment” in my mind needs to be perfect, and what if it’s like a Pinterest fail DIY project? (not sure if that analogy works, but… we’ll go with it. :P)

    YOU CAN DO THIS. Or maybe you can take a day or two to go and write that big moment, so you’ve gotten it out of the way and then can insert it later. Ugh, writing is hard. xD

    katie grace
    a writer’s faith

    Liked by 1 person

    • (Haha, I love that Hawkeye gif so much. XD)

      *happily noms consoling pizza* Thank you for your condolences and advice!! Yes, a Pinterest fail DIY project. *nods* That’s what I’m often afraid of too. XD

      Hmm, writing the big moments ahead is an interesting idea… I already write out of order sometimes. πŸ˜› YES WRITING IS HARD. *collapses* But we can do it! πŸ™‚

      Thanks for commenting, my dear! ❀

      Like

  2. I think being aware of how much plotting-before-the-plot-begins is really important as a novelist. If your work is a longer piece, then it does give you a chance to play around with more exposition and not needing to get to the juicy parts right away (compared to, say, a short story, where a long intro can turn the reader off). But indeed, too much wandering can become a problem!

    Basically, the chances of the reader losing interest by 20K in without much action are very high. So, I’d say just try to find earlier scenes (like in the 10K range and onwards) where you can start foreshadowing or dropping possible spoilers. It can be tricky, since you want to make sure you explain things well (and when it’s supposed to be simply a hint, that can be tough!).

    I have the opposite problem, of worrying that I’ve cut scenes off too abruptly, and didn’t explain something enough when it *was* time. The balance seems to be in revealing parts of the big twist as you go (Harry Potter is a great example of plotting well like this, as well as Terry Pratchett).

    Liked by 1 person

    • Excellent thoughts! Thanks so much, Daley!!

      And I definitely foreshadow — looots of that — I just take a long time to get to the point. *cough* But yes, hinting without giving TOO much away is a hard balance…

      I’m a very long-winded writer and always try to include EVERYTHING which is part of my problem… Hmm, I may have to pay attention with Pratchett and/or HP because I haven’t thought about that for twists…

      Anyways, thanks for your thoughts! ❀

      Like

  3. I do suffer from Hoarding Plot Reveal Secrets Syndrome. Although my BFF is a great antidote. She’s always making me tell her ANYTHING. However, I’m fighting back. I’m hiding my notebooks and locking her out of my room … πŸ˜‰

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I used to be a plot hoarder. Kept me from writing some great stories, as I had nothing to write because everything exciting was supposed to happen at the book’s end. Nowadays … well, I still hoard, but I’m getting a better feel with how to act.

    Indeed, in book 3.5, there was a plot twist that I was going to hold on until close to the end of the book … but then I realized that my characters weren’t stupid, and I let them figure it out in the second chapter. And the story was actually better for it. I had other plot twists saved for later, and that meant that they would get more page space because they weren’t competing with the first one.

    Actually, you’re on the right track with dividing your books into parts – it’s actually how I’ve finally combatted my bad habit. I treat each part as a “book” in and of itself, assigning each part with a climax with a reveal or three. It’s not going to kill your story to have a few plot twists in the front of the story. In fact, it may make it better.

    Liked by 1 person

    • YES. It is definitely a problem. XD Glad you’re getting better at it though — that gives me hope. XD

      :O That’s so cool! I wonder how some of my things would change if I could… just… let go and plop a reveal earlier on… *twitch* It sounds so HARD though. Ahem.

      Thanks! That’s good to know!! I don’t quite treat them as individual books, but I do usually have something big happening at the end of each, so… yeah.

      Thanks so much for sharing your opinions, experience, and advice! I appreciate it! ^_^ This was really helpful. πŸ™‚

      Like

  5. Fantastic post, and A+ giffery. XD

    I think I have the opposite problem. I just want to spill all the things before I’ve even written the darn book. I have to handcuff myself to my bed sometimes to keep from grabbing my phone and tweeting “THE JANITOR IN CHAPTER TWELVE IS ACTUALLY PROFESSOR MORIARTY!!!”

    (That is not an actual plot secret, just so you know. Not YET, anyway.) πŸ˜€

    Also, I’m confused. If you are currently writing KW2, where is KW1 and why have I not read it yet and what’s going on? WANT. *grabby hands*

    Liked by 1 person

  6. So I don’t know much about writing…I only decided to be a writer/write stories more two years ago when I finished my first novel (which was a piece of trash BTW) but I do know that I have Hoarding Plot-Reveal-Secrets Syndrome. And Too Early Plot-Reveal Syndrome. I suppose it’s part of growing as a writer. You have to learn by trial and error which parts of the plot to reveal immediately and which ones to hoard until later xD.
    For me it can be both really hard or really easy to keep a major plot point either secret not secret.
    I don’t really have any tips though really. Just like this I’d tell you: Sort your “secrets” so that you have the most astounding ones on one end and the least interesting ones on the other. You really want to have a “slapper secret” for the ending of your story so save/hoard that. Dose your readers with the small “secrets” or the less interesting ones during the first quarter/third/half/most of the book to keep them interested and motivated. In the last part of the book hand off some real good secrets but not all at the same time; that can be overwhelming. Little by little let them leak out.
    Maybe you can throw a huge secret in at the beginning (meaning the first few chapters) to interest them, confuse, and give them a little thrill. A reason to keep reading.
    That’s my advice.
    When will you be done editing your first boooook…. ❀ I want to read it xD

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts and advice, Nessie! And trust me, we ALL don’t know much about writing, no matter how long it’s been since we “started”, so your ideas are great! Thanks! I agree that trial and error is probably the only way to really learn, but I really like your idea of sorting the secrets and ordering them by astoundingness. And maybe a bigger one in the beginning too. Awesome, thank you! πŸ™‚

      And aww, you’re the sweetest! ^_^ I have no clue when my first fully-edited/finished novel will be ready, but you are so encouraging, so thank you!! Hopefully you will get to read it someday! XD Thanks so much for your comment, and I’m really sorry I didn’t reply to it sooner! o.o *hugs* ❀

      Liked by 1 person

  7. OH MY GOODNESS!!!! *Hugs you!* because I HAVE THIS PROBLEM TOO!!!! SO MUCH!!!!! I thought I was the only one!!!

    In addition to being a plot-reveal-secrets-hoarder I’m constantly worried that my readers are REALLY smart and that I’m giving away FAR too much early on. Then later, all my beta readers miss ALL the hints and I find out that my worries made me WAY too subtle, and I have to go in and edit things to be slightly more obvious. Not too obvious, though, because readers get cranky if they can see things coming from a mile away.

    I have recently discovered the way (for me) to fix this Hoarding Plot-Reveal-Secrets Syndrome… I write the book and hoard the plot-reveal-secrets to my heart’s content. THEN, during editing, I rearrange the book (Scrivener helps with this SOOO MUCH!) so that more interesting things happen earlier in the book.

    For example: In Minstrel’s Call… I had about 6-8 chapters of my characters sort of twiddling their thumbs in a: “We’re just sort of hanging out and doing research, because: REASONS…” and then “BAM!” High King gets called to come preside over a murder trial. Things sped up from there, but it was a good 40,000 words before the STORY really got moving. That’s longer than the entirety of The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe!

    In the edited version, however, I moved the murder to the opening scene of the book… and let the characters go do research later when it made more sense. It didn’t require too much re-writing or tweaking… and the book opens with a much more interesting/exciting ride, plunging right into the action of the story and getting involved sooner in all the things that are going on in the world.

    Having an extensive outline doesn’t always help, either. Orb and the Airship kind of had the same sort of thing. I wrote it out all from one character’s perspective and it opened very “Fellowship of the Ring” with characters beginning a loooooong journey. It was fun, and interesting, but it also felt like not much was happening. Later, I realized that I needed to write more of the story from the pirate’s perspective, so I did that and began the book with him… then interspersed his story throughout the book to break up the horse-back-riding/history-regaling parts of the book. Again, this worked quite nicely. Being flexible about rearranging the story after the fact allows me to draft in my usual sneaky, plot-secret-hoarding way… but prevents me from trying to convince my readers that it’s BETTER to wait 190,000 words before getting to the AHA moment… which will then wrap up and the story will be over 2,000 words later. LOL

    Liked by 1 person

    • *shrieks and hugs YOU because kinship and similar problems and I love your comment*

      Ohhh, don’t get me started on worrying that readers are too smart and will figure everything out. XD I know JUST what you mean! It’s so hard hitting the right balance between something being too subtle or too obvious, and it also depends on the reader, and gaaah! Writing is hard. XD

      I love this idea of hoarding the secrets the first time as much as you want and then rearranging later (yay Scrivener!) in editing. That makes so much sense. It would probably give me a headache, buuut I may have to try it someday. XD

      (I’m now so curious about all these thiiiings going on in Minstrel’s Call!!! πŸ˜€ But thanks for sharing an example!) And boy do I ever know about having a LWW’s-worth of writing before anything happens. -_- *cough* Writerproblems. πŸ˜›

      Again, great examples from Orb and the Airship (STAHP MAKING ME WANT ALL YOUR NOVELS YESTERDAY AWK. Ahem.), and I like the idea that adding different POVs and re-ordering stuff can help with that. I’m probably going to end up doing something like that with Heartseeker, because I NEED to go back and add in stuff from the hero’s POV (so far it’s all been the heroine’s POV, and I really need to see his side of things) but just haven’t known how to do it yet… but need to…

      Basically, being a sneaky plot-secret-hoarder and then rearranging stuff later sounds fabulous in theory and I might need to try it sometime. Thanks for shariiiiing! ^_^ Such helpfulness! πŸ˜€

      Like

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  9. Oh you crack me up…those GIFs. My son and I both had to laugh pretty hard at a couple of them πŸ™‚ Yes, I’ve had this problem before. I don’t have the answer really, other than be aware of your entire outline before you start writing. And more importantly, be aware of how an outline in general SHOULD flow (when to reveal secrets, etc.). My all-time favorite outlining how-to is K.M. Weiland’s “Outlining Your Novel.” It’s changed the way I write books! I highly recommend it…maybe it would help with keeping track of when “that” moment is to let your readers (and yourself) in on those secrets! But seriously, no matter what course you take, you’d bound to learn and move forward in your writing, and that’s always worth it, even if the process is difficult.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Haha, thanks! I’m glad you enjoyed the gifs. XD Being aware of your whole outline is a good idea; unfortunately a couple of the books I’m having this problem for, I started before I KNEW the whole outline… so I was semi-pantsing them, and that was probably not a good idea. πŸ˜› It probably will mean a lot of editing… *cough* I’ve heard good things of that author and book! Thanks for the tip! And thanks for sharing your thoughts! I agree that moving forward is always important, and we learn our best lessons through trial and error, so. πŸ™‚ Thank you so much for your comment! ❀

      Like

  10. Our brain twinsy-ness has struck again! BECAUSE YESSS. THIS POST!!!!!!

    I’m…getting a smidge better at this? Or…trying to. More like FORCING myself to. Haha. But aaaagh. I still struggle with it so bad. And when I was younger…oh my gracious goodness. Alllll the plot reveal hoarding I would do. o.o You just wouldn’t believe. My first big fantasy novel I wrote is literally over 200k words and…only like halfway done. O_O Because I didn’t start getting to actual PLOT stuff until I had written like 200k words!!! I just kept writing all these random adventures the MC had and never focused on the actual PLOT. Because my silly brain thought, hey, the plot reveals will be more exciting if the reader has spent a ton of time with the character and story. >.> <..> <.< Yeeeah. Needless to say, I never went back and finished that story. It took me yeeears to learn that every single page needs to have a PURPOSE and MOVE THE PLOT FORWARD. I can't just have 29384 random adventures merely so the reader can get to know my characters better. But I still struggle with this.

    Like I said, I have to FORCE myself nowadays to actually reveal stuff early and keep the plot moving and have purpose. But it's hard because…SPOILERS. I can't reveal that yet! D: Ahem. So yes. I SO FEEL YOU. So very, very much. But you know what, I'm starting to learn that I enjoy writing MORE when I DO actually focus on the main plot and scatter plot twists and reveals everywhere. Instead of just meandering with the novel, but writing ALL the big epic things. It's FUN! Even though it goes against everything I believe in to reveal secrets, once I DO I have a lot of fun writing it.

    BUT STILL. IT IS HARD. But I looooved this post! The gif-usage was perfection. xD Also you pointing out the KW2 has "secret" in the TITLE made me laugh out loud. BUT EXCUSE ME. WHO IS THIS CHARACTER WHO WILL STEAL THE SHOW FROM TARE BECAUSE THAT IS IMPOSSIBLE WHAAAAAT.

    Also, your "summary" of KW2. XDDD But noooo! Your stories are EPIC. KW1 had me reeling with all its awesomeness and plot reveals!

    From my experience with this problem, the best advice I can give is to just DO IT. Just reveal those secrets, move the plot quickly, throw in some plot twists or ten. Buuuut I'm still working on this myself so what do I even know. xD

    Liked by 1 person

    • *highfives for braintwinsiness*

      Well, that’s good that you’re getting better at it, because it means there may be hope for me someday! XD Oh dear, that’s… erm… unfortunate about your 200K first book. o.o And I’m a bad writer (bad, bad Celti!) because sometimes I don’t WANT every page of my books to move the plot forward because I want to have fun with Tare and the Chess Club. XD *cough* But you raise a good point. πŸ˜› And random adventures can help US as writers to know our characters better, but… yeah, not always the best idea for the finished book. XD

      AND YES. IT’S SO HARD. BECAUSE SPOILERS. I’m glad I’m not the only one. XD And that’s awesome you’ve been having fun revealing things, and I just need to, you know, get that sort of mentality thing going. Because I think it could be fun too! I just… have to dare to, you know? And escape my plot-reveal-secrets hoarding self. >.>

      Aww, thank you!! πŸ˜€ And I’m glad you liked the gifs. XD Eheheheheheh the KW2 plot is toootally like that, really. >.> Ahem. And the secret in the title will be revealed… someday. >:D (I CAN’T TELL YOU. BECAUSE I’M HOARDING THE PLOT SECRET. BUT SOMEDAY YOU WILL MEET THIS CHARACTER AND YOU CAN TELL ME YOURSELF IF HE STEALS THE SHOW. BUT IT’S THE ONLY CHARACTER EVER WHO MIGHT STEAL THE SHOW FROM TARE AND I’M NERVOUS. XD BECAUSE IT’S IMPOSSIBLE, I AGREE, BUT THIS ONE MIGHT AND AWK.)

      And that is EXCELLENT advice. “Just do it” is, like, the answer to almost all writing problems ever. XD Anyways, thank you soooo much for your thoughtful answers, encouragement, ideas, and advice! I so appreciate it! ^_^ *huggles your comment*

      Like

  11. Oh, Deborah!!! I WISH I did this!! My problem seems to bed the reverse — I reveal everything too quickly and rush my story. :((( At least your method produces lengthy volumes to work with, right??? πŸ˜‰

    Like

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