Tag Archives | suprising the reader

Anticipation and Surprise

My son squeals, runs around the house, sings about snow, calls his grandparents, packs his suitcase too early, counts down the days until December 25th – all in anticipation of the big day, Christmas.

Huge anticipation = Huge pressure on me, the parent, to produce.

You’d think that would be the case, but it’s not. My son loves everything about it. The eight hour drive in the car, which he recently confessed is fun (who’d have thought). The excitement of trying to fall asleep on Christmas Eve. The joy of waking up and seeing the brightly wrapped gifts. (He certainly doesn’t notice I’m a terrible wrapper or that his grandparents reuse paper from the 80s.) I don’t even think it matters to him what he gets – it could be a bunch of cheap toys from the Dollar Store and he’d be excited.

That concept of anticipation and surprise is crucial in books. I love reading through pitch contests. I usually have my top three picked out, and sometimes the agent chooses differently. The good ones stick out. My brain picks up on a unique voice or a terrific premise.

Not very often do I hear of writers getting signed from these pitch contests. Somewhere in the middle the execution and surprise of the manuscript didn’t match the anticipation the pitch created.

Writing is magic. And the successful writer knows all the tricks and slight of hands to create the magic.

If this holiday season leaves you feeling discouraged about the writing or publishing journey, dig deep and learn the tricks so the surprises in your writing equal the anticipation. And keep up the hard work!

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Low expectations means better results.

On Friday nights, my husband and I practice an ancient ritual, passed through the generations. It’s called pizza and a movie. Totally secret, right?

Though lately, we’ve had a hard time finding movies we like. And I can’t decide if that’s because we’re getting older, or because the movies have headed south. Maybe both?

Well, he brought home this movie called, The Hangover – Rated R, and I totally don’t watch rated R movies anymore. But he insisted that he’d heard it was really good. (word of mouth) So I curled up on my couch, with a pepperoni slize in one hand, and my book in the other – ready to exit at the first sign of dumb dialogue. I mean, come on, The Hangover? How good can a movie be about a bunch of guys partying in Vegas for a bachelor party?

But (gasp) I stayed for the whole movie. I actually laughed out loud. Here are the factors that hooked me and I’m sure you’ll see the obvious relation to writing.

  •  Great character-specific dialogue that continually surprised me.
  • Enough backstory revealed that I cared about these guys and realized that they weren’t just a bunch of immature highschool wannabes.
  • Mystery revealed. The groom went missing. The movie was about solving this mystery – not about their partying. (Key point)
  • The stakes were high and things kept getting worse and worse.
  • The clue to solving the mystery was planted in the very beginning.
  • Great relationships between the four guys. Believable.
  • A suprising ending.
  • True character transformation in all of them.

Has a book or movie suprised you lately?

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