Surprise, surprise, surprise!

There is a meme floating around (and I can’t find it now, but I’m sure you’ve seen it) that I love. And my daughter has fallen in love with it to. It’s something like this:

When life gives you a surprise, just yell “Plot twist!” and move on.

This week reinforced just how true that is. And the surprises aren’t always bad – or good.

  • Surprise! You’ve just been fired.
  • Surprise! You’re going to have a baby!
  • Surprise! Your computer just died.
  • Surprise! Your Twitter pitch got a favorite!
  • Surprise! You got a five-star review (this one actually happened to me yesterday).

(Side note: No, I wasn’t fired this week, but I have been fired before.)

And so on. And they’re all plot twists. We tend to think of twists in fiction as “bad” things, but really a twist is anything that takes the story in an unexpected direction. And sometimes that direction is up. Sometimes it’s down. But it’s always something we aren’t quite looking for.

As writers, we want twists. We want to surprise our readers because hey, that’s what makes a good story. Nobody wants to read about predictable. Even in a romance, where we want the boy and the girl to get their HEA ending, it’s not really a story if boy meets girl, they have a wonderful, but non-problematic, courtship and they go on to spend the rest of the lives together.

No, we want the sizzle. And twists give us the sizzle.

Real life might be a different game. Maybe we don’t want quite so much uncertainty in our day-to-day. But we’re going to get it. That’s life. Life happens in the surprise moments, not the ones where everything goes the way we expect.

So take a tip from fiction. When life throws a curve ball yell “plot twist!” and above all, keep on reading.

Mary Sutton | @mary_sutton73

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Author: Liz Milliron

Liz Milliron has been making up stories, and creating her own endings for other people's stories, for as long as she can remember. She's worked for fifteen years in the corporate world, but finds making things up is far more satisfying than writing software manuals. A lifelong mystery fan, her short fiction has been published in online magazines Uppagus and Mysterical-e. She has also had stories included in Lucky Charms: 12 Crime Tales, Blood on the Bayou (the 2016 Bouchercon anthology), Fish Out of Water, and Mystery Most Historical. She is a past president of the Pittsburgh chapter of Sisters in Crime. Visit her online at http://lizmilliron.com, find her on Facebook at https://facebook.com/LizMilliron, or follow her on Twitter (@LizMilliron).

5 thoughts on “Surprise, surprise, surprise!”

  1. Congrats on the 5-star review!! You’re so right–plot twists keep us reading. Sometimes the twists are more memorable than the plot itself!

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  2. Thanks, Sue. Theresa, no babies here. I am so past that part of my life! LOL And yes, I wish I could handle my own plot twists with the same grace and grit of my characters. (I also wish Safari would quit thinking Mysteristas is a malicious website – I don’t have anything Norton installed!).

    Like

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