Shocks and Surprises in Fiction: All in Good Fun, or a Gimmick?


keep the suspense ‘real’

Creative Writing with the Crimson League

question-mark-3-1084632-mToday’s post is about twists, turns, and surprises in fiction, and what can make them feel “gimmicky” as opposed to delighting readers in the way we authors expect and hope.

We all know “gimmicky” when we read it: something feels lazy, forced, or somehow not genuine, because characters aren’t being true to who we believe they are (who they’ve shown themselves to be.)

I’ve written one post about suspense tactics turning gimmicky, but this post is different. In many ways, surprise is the opposite of suspense. And that explains the first reason surprises in fiction can feel gimmicky:

1. THE STORY DOESN’T SET UP FOR THE SHOCKING REVELATION

Suspense is all about building tension, based on knowing only PART of what’s going on. You know a killer is in the house, but you don’t know when he’ll strike. You know the bad guy is up to something, but you…

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