Hiding information from your readers on purpose will help you create tension in your novel. I know this doesn’t work for every novel, but if you’re writing something with elements of suspense and mystery, hiding details and revealing them later will improve your story. This also helps add dimensions to your characters and explore their motivations on a deeper level.
Here are a few things to hide about your characters to create tension:
Whether or not your protagonist is lying
Even good characters lie, especially if they feel like it will protect other people in the long run. There are ways to hint that your character is hiding the truth without actually revealing what the truth is. If your protagonist gets nervous or changes the subject when they’re asked about a specific detail, this will help show your readers that something isn’t quite right. If your character’s deception is hidden and then revealed at the right time, you’ll be able to add exciting tension and shock value to your story.
Who the real villain is
Some of the best tension is created when we’re uncertain about who the real villain is. In mystery/crime novels, for example, there’s often evidence that points to one person who ends up not really being the one we need to worry about. If you hide this information from your readers, you keep them guessing throughout the course of your novel and this will aid in creating suspense.
The truth about their past
When you hide your character’s past from your readers, you have the ability to use it as an explanation for something important later on. For example, if you character has these mysterious powers they can’t explain, you can use their parents and back story in order to reveal later on why it’s happening. Revealing past details slowly over the course of your novel helps build the mystery.
What their secondary goals are
Sometimes characters will have goals no one else knows about but them OR they will have a false goal that their using to cover up their real goal. For example, a character might say they’re rescuing another character because they want to help, but it really might be all about finding some hidden treasure along the way. There are many reasons why a character might want to hide their goals. Explore character motivations on a deeper level and you’ll be able to realistically include this type of deception in your story.