I know that I’ve written on this in at least one other post, but it is fundamental, so I trust you’ll humor me.
Yesterday I made the following note in my commonplace book.
“I think that most of the power in fiction comes of revelation to the reader and keeping characters in the dark.”
It is rare, but there are times as a writer (or practitioner of any craft) that you realize you have come to know a small but critical thing about that which you strive to do; and that you know this small thing with utmost confidence.
Yesterday I had such a moment. And it was at that moment that I wrote the above phrase in my notebook.
This statement is true. I have learned it as a mathematician learns the Pythagorean Theorem, a chemist learns the Meissner Effect, or a carpenter learns the terrific benefits of the dovetail joint. I have applied it and it works. Every time. It is a law of the craft. It is a fact that I can count on. It is an objective truth. I did not invent it or imagine it. I cannot exploit it nor fully explain it. It does not belong to me. It is simply a characteristic of the nature of successful fiction.
So be on your way. Go, and test this truth yourself.