Winding Oak's Bookology Magazine

Secret Destination

Secret DestinationIf I hadn’t made the trip myself, I don’t think I would believe how quick­ly you can trav­el from the curi­ous world of the Las Vegas Strip to what seems to be its dia­met­ri­cal oppo­site: the Red Rock Canyon Nation­al Con­ser­va­tion Area.

Red Rock is com­posed of desert and rock for­ma­tions, the kind of place that inspired one web­site to urge vis­i­tors to leave news of their intend­ed des­ti­na­tion with a “respon­si­ble par­ty” before they jour­ney into its mys­ter­ies.

The Vegas Strip is com­posed of show­girls and casi­nos. In oth­er words, it’s the kind of place where vis­i­tors should leave news of their intend­ed des­ti­na­tion with a “respon­si­ble par­ty” before they jour­ney into its mys­ter­ies.

It’s almost as if Las Vegas keeps a giant secret wilder­ness tucked away in its backyard—a secret unknown to many Vegas vis­i­tors who don’t ven­ture beyond the famil­iar flash­ing lights. And yet, now that I know that secret is there, a whole new dimen­sion has been added to my under­stand­ing of the Las Vegas expe­ri­ence.

Dis­cov­er­ing a secret can be illu­mi­nat­ing when you’re on a writ­ing road trip, too. Some of the best advice I’ve ever been giv­en about char­ac­ter­i­za­tion came from mys­tery writer Ellen Hart. She urged me to give every one of my characters—even those who play small roles in my stories—a secret.

She was right. These secrets have added a won­der­ful dimen­sion to my under­stand­ing of my sto­ries. Now that all of my char­ac­ters have some­thing tucked secret­ly into the back­yards of their lives, my sto­ries are more infused with poten­tial and human­i­ty.

Every young writer knows the refrain “I’ve got a secret.” Remind your stu­dents of it; urge them to study their own char­ac­ters, to find out what kind of wilder­ness each one has kept hid­den from the world.

One Response to Secret Destination

  1. Norma Gaffron May 13, 2016 at 10:08 am #

    Neat idea. I love it.

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