Monday, March 22, 2010

Surprise - It's Spring

Spring has finally arrived - officially. The Spring or Vernal Equinox occured this year on Saturday, March 20.

And this morning it's 34 degrees here in San Antonio.

For those of you in the north and in the mountains, I know that's not bad. But for South Texans, it's a little chilly. It's especially a little chilly when it's supposed to be maybe 50-something in the mornings this time of year.

So I'm sitting here drinking a cup of coffee on this sunny, but cold, morning and wondering how in the world I'm going to relate this to writing. And it dawned on me.

This is just the kind of thing our characters face. Or should. At least every once in a while.

"What do you mean he's not here? He's always here on Mondays."

"That bus sideswiped my van! How am I going to deliver all these flowers?"

"Look! That man has a gun!"

"You're pregnant?"

It's the element of surprise.

Sometimes you can pre-plan and program these in. Sometimes that's not an option.

When you're writing that first draft, sometimes an area feels plodding or stale. Or maybe you've stared at the screen for an hour and nothing works.

Try a surprise.

It's the Dreaded Middle of your story. Maude is on her way to choir practice. She's picking up Edna, Bessie, and Cora. How dull. The next plot point happens at choir practice, but you can't just open with Maude there because she and the "girls" have things to share with the reader before the plot point.

Maude has a blowout. Bessie has chest pains. Edna, the organist, slams the door on her hand. Cora, bless her heart, forgot her purse. When they go back, someone is breaking into her house.

You might have a different or better plot twist. You might have a small obstacle. Or you might delete everything you've written.

It doesn't matter.

What happens is it gets you more involved with your characters. You see them in a new light. You learn how they deal with problems or catastrophies.

It perks up your writing.

I'm perking up, too. I've consumed a little caffeine and the sun has warmed us up to 45.

Yes!

It's going to be a good week.

13 comments:

Joanne said...

Great advice. When I'm at a point in a manuscript that needs a little something, I often will come at the scene from a completely unexpected, never-think-it-will-work angle and it's amazing how things evolve! Yes, the element of surprise, even to the writer :)

And I second your notion ... Yes, it's going to be a good week!

Aubrie said...

45 is still a bit chilly! But warm enough to walk the dogs :)

I need a little more surprise in my writing! Great post! I'm going to try it out today.

Mason Canyon said...

A little surprise in writing is always good.

I'm wondering what happen to spring too. We had a little sleet and snow flurries this morning after having 70 degree weather Saturday. Our high today is expected to be 46. Will spring ever come and stay for more than 24 hours?

Elspeth Antonelli said...

I'm wading through the Dreaded Middle - and have started to shake things up. It seems to be pushing the plot forward in an interesting direction. Let's hope it's not pushing it into a dead end. (pun sort of intended)

Helen Ginger said...

It is nice to have surprises in your work. I was rewriting a scene this weekend and ended up completely turning it upside down. It was much better.

Helen
Straight From Hel

Carol Kilgore said...

Joanne - Yes. Usually that gets it done.

Aubrie - We're at 62 now. Hope the process works for you, too.

Mason - We're on our way to 74, or so the weather guru says. I hope spring soon grabs a firm hold.

Elspeth - Oooh, puns :)

Helen - Cool!

Maryann Miller said...

Nice segue into the writing topic, and you are so right about the surprises. Those are the crux of the drama. Action and reaction.

Here in East Texas it was cold, too, and we had snow again. Yikes. I can remember when a late March snowstorm in Omaha NE was a news event. It was a HUGE news event in Texas.

Carol Kilgore said...

This winter was one for the record books, that's for sure.

Elizabeth Spann Craig/Riley Adams said...

I love surprises! And you're right...they're a great way to handle a sagging middle.

Elizabeth
Mystery Writing is Murder

VR Barkowski said...

Love the element of surprise!

But not when it comes to spring weather. Mason and I live in the same neck of the woods. Seventies on Saturday, snow flurries this morning. Brrr.

Carol Kilgore said...

Now if only I could surprise myself and get rid of the sagging middle around my waistline . . .

Laura Eno said...

Good advice to remember. Sometimes the middle reads like the author was just waiting to get to the end.

Carol Kilgore said...

Sometimes it feels that way to me, too.