Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Learning from Hurricanes and Sarah Palin

What a busy news weekend. Between the announcement of Sarah Palin as John McCain's running mate to Hurricane Gustov, news people have been running at a frantic pace. Here in Texas, Gustov has been a major topic. Ranchers hoped for just the right landfall to bring some much needed rain, while residents of the Gulf Coast commenced manditory evacuations.

Listening to the ongoing news coverage this weekend, one word kept emerging--unpredictable. "This storm is unpredictable," the weather man would say after Gustov took an unexpected turn. "She wasn't even on the short list," commentators ranted about McCain's selection, obviously blindsided by the choice. And they haven't shut up since.

By now, you're probably wondering what this has to do with writing. Everything! How often have you watched a movie or television show or read a book and been able to predict what would happen next? But how much more exciting is it when the author/producer catches us off guard? "Whoa! I did NOT see that coming," we exclaim, scooting to the edge of our seats. It's those unexpected twists and turns that keep the pages turning.

In Elizabeth White's Fireworks, the heroine, Susannah Tait, was not a Christian. And though she attended church with the hero a couple of times she wasn't convinced. Then came the scene where she went to church looking for the hero. She found him alright--in the pulpit, sharing his testimony before the entire congregation.

Our hero, having spotted her earlier, tries to find her afterward, but can't. Someone informs him that as soon as he was done sharing, she went forward and was now being counseled. Our hero is elated. When Susannah finally emerges, our hero's beside himself. But his congratulations fall flat when she informs him that she went forward because she wanted to talk to him. Instead she was nabbed by their overzealous friend and escorted out of the sanctuary. A-ha, our heroine had not given her heart to Christ after all. The hero is disappointed and the reader wonders if Susannah will ever come around. But it was unpredictable.

What are some of your favorite "unpredictable" plot twists? And how do you try to incorporate those unexpected turns into your work?


  1. What a cool twist! I haven't read that particular book but love Beth's writing! I'll have to check it out.

    One of my twists in my first book was Lindi's idea! :)A reader would assume the heroine is not well off, but she's actually from a wealthy family and has pulled away from them because of the wealth and all that demanded of her as a child. I originally had her being from a poor family (the hero's opposite), but Lindi had the great idea to reverse that. People have commented on that cool twist after reading the book! Thanks Lindi!! :)


  2. I'm glad Lindi helped you with that twist, Missy, cuz I loved your story.

  3. Your welcome, Missy!
    Great post Mindy.

  4. I think in my contemporary women's fiction I had a unexpected twist. Throughout the book they are trying to keep the child with Leukemia from dying, all their concentration is on this child, but instead, they lose a another child from a freak accident. It's a drama about dealing with loss and living life to the fullest--making every moment count and overcoming the past. Through God's grace there is a happy ending because of God bringing the family together through the tragedy--much like life.