Recently, I was watching NCIS. And within the first five minutes I pointed at a character and said “He did it.” If you watch TV dramas the villain is usually easy to detect. Unless the producers takes one of its beloved characters and turns them evil. I love it when I’m wrong. That unexpected twisted that reveals a more subtle character as the villain. Even if I know who done it I love to see how the clues unravel.
I read books the same way. If I can figure out the mystery too soon it can still hold my interest if the unraveled clues are well done. That can be the hardest part of writing a novel. Any genre of novel. The unexpected. I was reading Moment of Truth by Sandra Bicker recently. And I was deliciously surprised when Ragan was enjoying time at a book fair with her new boyfriend talking about their surrounding when she looks up and sees her ex. I did not see that coming. Loved all the emotion that exploded off the page. Emotions not even spoken of earlier. Wow! Great stuff!
A key to great writing is to reveal the unexpected and catch the reader off guard. I love to read the comment “I didn’t see that coming” in the margins of my manuscript from my editor. If she didn’t see it coming I know my readers will love it.
Tension in Romance
When romance is involved whether in a mystery, thriller or a typical romance there is a formula. The typical love story has boy meets girl, boy and girl have issues, they draw close, wall comes up and then there is truth revealed. We know they are going to get together in the end but the sudden twists in their relationship make it a fun read. It doesn’t have to be earthshattering just unexpected. Being taken for granted. Too friendly with someone form the opposite sex. Or an old flame appearing on the scene. Even taking over a project from the heroine or taking her enemy’s side in an argument.
Excellent writing is the key to holding your audience
As long as the word craft carries us to the end with a satisfied sigh or an air fist bump the writer has achieved his goal. The next time you watch your favorite TV Drama or read a novel from your favorite author try to discover when the unexpected occurs.
What surprises have made a story you’ve read especially enjoyable?
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