Expect the Unexpected

It’s winter. It’s cold. The leaves are all gone.

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I can see frost on the ground, but the sun provides a little warmth on my back. I think back to summer, how those uncomfortably hot and humid days seemed endless. In the cold winter, I think about how I’d love to have summer back. In summer, I’d go inside a building to avoid the heat and seek an air conditioner. I’d think about winter, how the cold might be nice. Or at least that’s what you’d expect me to say. In fact, I’d prefer to stay in summer.

Everyone expects me to like winter. Why is that? Is it because I’m from Canada? Most likely. But you can’t expect every Canadian to like cold weather or winter.

The same goes for characters or plots in a book. You have to expect the unexpected. Or maybe you expect that unexpected situation? So expected the unexpected that is more unexpected than the unexpected that you expected. I think that’s a goal writers want to achieve. I certainly want to.

One thing we need to be able to do is think like our characters. Don’t put our thoughts in the characters’ minds, but put their thoughts in ours. We need to think and talk like we’ve never thought and talked before. Not just think outside the box, but think outside the polyhedron that envelops that box.

That goes for the plot, as well. Make it totally unexpected and original. But not too bizarre. That could throw off the reader so much that they can’t believe what they’re reading.

While using the unexpected is very important, we have to maintain a balance between the unexpected and realism. We need readers to feel comfortable, yet always on the edge waiting for something incredible to happen.

I may hate winter, but I love hockey. I’m sure you expected that last part.

What are your thoughts? Leave a comment below with your opinions.

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