No, I am not channeling Gomer Pyle. But I am going to tell you about something that, you guessed it, surprised me today on the way home from work. I was driving on the highway and a car drove past in the left lane. It was a huge car from the late seventies, but what really stood out was the fact that it had multiple skeletons sitting on the roof of the car with their legs dangling over the side windows. What made this really weird was that they were painted flourescent colors – orange, green, purple. To top it off, some of the skeletons had clown wigs on!
Now you can imagine that I was shocked at the moving display. I tried my darndest to take a picture with my phone, but I decided it was better (and smarter) to drive and not careen off the highway. And as the skeletons buzzed past me, I laughed all the way home.
There is something magical about surprises. For me they make me feel like a kid again. Let’s be honest. As adults we don’t get too many real surprises in life. That’s why good stories are so important. True they allow us to escape. But I think just as important is that they surprise us. The surprise doesn’t have to be a far-fetched, jaw-dropper. Instead it can be discovering the hero or heroine’s secret or realizing who done it in a who-done-it. It can be a scene where the characters face their fears and move forward to the betterment of themselves or in the case of a romance, the budding relationship.
As a writer, I have to remember to bring surprise into my stories. I want my readers to feel the joy that they had as children when they opened up their birthday presents or saw something for the first time. If I can give them that then they will enjoy the journey and are bound to come back for more.