Mrs. Rochester in the attic. Whoddunit on the Orient Express. Why the Stepford Wives are so obedient. Who fathered Rosemary’s Baby.
I like twists and turns in stories, especially those I don’t see coming. I didn’t know that Soylent Green is people—or maybe I just didn’t want to know.
In my own writing, I seek the unexpected, albeit maybe not so dramatically. Sometimes the surprises surprise me, too. I knew the ending of Evie but I wasn’t sure how she got there until I saw a newspaper ad for the state fair. The quirk in The Chances was born a decade ago, when a friend told me a story about seeing a woman on the side of the road. The Barking Dog needed to be quieted, but it took a few rewrites to realize how and by whom.
The unexpected is not always a twist or turn or big sexy revelation. The unexpected in a story can be the wise voice of a child narrator, a dark place that is full of light, ugliness within beauty or kindness within the jaded. I strive to write the unexpected and when I am reading the work of others, both as a reader and as an editor, I am delighted when I find it in a story.
On Saturday, January 18, I’ll be speaking about Seeking the Unexpected at the Newark Arts Alliance. My talk is the third installment of the NAA’s Literary Arts Discussion Series. The first two discussions were led by Delaware’s Poet Laureate JoAnn Balingit and Charles Todd, the state’s acclaimed mother and son mystery writing team.
Because I write and edit professionally, I’ll read a story to show my point and discuss from there how to find and write the unexpected. I hope you’ll join us and support arts and literature in Delaware.