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Jan's Master Class--SURPRISE

These lessons, by one of our most consistent FaithWriters' Challenge Champions, should not be missed. So we're making a permanent home for them here.

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Postby glorybee » Fri May 08, 2009 7:28 am

Great examples, Seema!

I'm sure that a story that lends itself to surprise will present itself to you soon....I look forward to reading it!
Jan Ackerson

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Surprise

Postby Colswann1 » Tue May 26, 2009 8:47 am

Hi Jan

I used this challenge story of birds to depict human behaviour. Being a bird lover I see similarities quite a lot. And Jesus said, "Consider the birds.." Because he knew we had things we could learn from their example.

http://www.faithwriters.com/wc-article- ... p?id=21086
Colin Swann

Jesus’ love is constant and never wavers.

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Postby glorybee » Tue May 26, 2009 9:04 am

Colin--very clever! I like the fact that the surprise came in the middle, and then we got a pleasant little lesson.
Jan Ackerson

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surprise

Postby abbahands » Wed May 27, 2009 7:41 pm

I am very new at Faithwriters, and I really love it! In some of my stories, I try to make some twists or surprises happen. Lots of times though, the surprise is a writing error, even after editing it so many times! Ouch!

:shock: :lol:
Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek His will in all you do, and He will show you which path to take. Prov. 3:5-6

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Postby glorybee » Wed May 27, 2009 7:47 pm

Oh, we've definitely all been there! Welcome to the world of writing...but isn't it exhilarating?
Jan Ackerson

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Postby Greghory » Wed Jun 03, 2009 12:26 pm

There's a sense in which the betrayal of Jesus by Judas Iscariot is one of the great surprises in the gospel narrative. Most of us are so familiar with the story that we know what is going to happen. But imagine the reader's shock at discovering that one of the Lord's inner circle - someone who has preached and cast out demons in Jesus' name - should hand him over to his enemies to be tortured and executed. The stuff that great drama is made of!

I love surprise endings - provided there has been the odd hint thrown in here and there. My latest Challenge story, Prison Break was particularly successful in sending people back for a second read. The dark tone put some people off but I was pleased with the overall effect even if I did have to take a few liberties with the MC's self-awareness.

Blessings
Gregory Kane

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Postby glorybee » Wed Jun 03, 2009 12:42 pm

Gregory, I don't know what to think about "Prison Break". There's no doubt that it's outstanding writing, from a very gifted writer. But is it fair? Yes, you dropped hints, and the second read gives aha! moments a-plenty. But when you provide your surprise by painting a word picture that is absolutely at odds with conventional wisdom and scientific fact--in fact, by providing an entirely alternate reality...

It's as if I wrote a story in which the surprise at the ending is that the POV character is actually a demon, but one who throughout the story performs acts of great compassion.

I totally admire your writing, and would love to learn from your thinking/writing process here. Did that cognitive dissonance not concern you? Or was that the effect you were going for?
Jan Ackerson

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Postby CatLin » Thu Jun 04, 2009 11:55 pm

Sorry, Jan, late to class!

I LOVE a good twist, and would love even more to learn how to do it effectively. I'm afeared it requires more imagination that I usually have.

I watched Kenneth Brannaugh's "Much Ado About Nothing" (by Shakespeare) last night, and the look on Claudio's face when his bride removes the veil, and he sees it's actually his love Hero, who he thought was dead, was priceless.

I've been reading over my entries and see I've attempted surprise in many of them, but I think only a couple might qualify as almost successful. :D Both are early entries from my long stay in Advanced.

In The First Date, I'm afraid the surprise is a bit too obvious - like "Oh, yah, I saw that coming a mile away," as a wise woman has said (and a couple commenters commented on). I don't know how to make it more surprising tho.

The next one I think truly does contain a surprise, along with foreshadowing, but I'll let you be the judge.
Little Pitchers Have Big Ears

Thank you for this most awesome ministry, Jan! You are a true blessing.
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"God rewrote the text of my life when I opened the book of my heart to his eyes." Psalm 18:24 (The Message)

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Postby glorybee » Fri Jun 05, 2009 12:40 pm

Catrina, I LOVE the combination of foreshadowing and surprise in "Little Pitchers have Big Ears". Adorable!
Jan Ackerson

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Postby honeyrock » Mon Jun 15, 2009 1:43 pm

Hi! I just found that this class existed! YEA! I so enjoyed this. Maybe two examples (from film?) A recent Lifetime Two-Part movie "Man Eater". You know the plots - the couple is at the altar and the wedding is stopped because one or both decide they really still love the one that got (or is getting) away? (Sweet Home Alabama, etc.) ? "Maneater" was a twist because she goes through the wedding and you find out at the very end, she really really loved her husband NOT the one that got away! Then, there was "My Best Friend's Wedding" - you expect Julia Roberts to win in the end, but the one that got away really loves his fiance'. That was a surprise too departures from the traditional plot.

:roll: Thanks for the tips here!
I loved the guidance about the "heavenly interventions" . Yup, I've often felt forsaken when Ed McMahon didn't come calling!

What about surprises that aren't so good? Like I was surprised God let Cain kill Abel, John the Baptist get beheaded, etc.
Be strong and very courageous Joshua 1:7

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Postby lillia » Mon Jun 15, 2009 4:19 pm

I must admit that much of th surprize in mystories tends to be relaed to revealing that the events were taking place in a dream. Course, this is done in a way to prove a point: God still does that sort of thing. One kind of fun surprise in one of my challengeentries is the supposed quote from an article at the end. It's a Sci-Fi story nd one is led to wonder if the story is based on a real article. And one of my Christmas stories is written in such a way tht folks mistakenly think it is nonfiction.
Have a blessed day.

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May God hold you
In the palm of His hand." (An Irish Blessing, I don't know who wrote it.)

James 1:2-4

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Postby glorybee » Wed Jun 17, 2009 2:13 pm

Hi, Lillia--

What a nice surprise :D to see that people are still reading these posts--thanks for your input!

I'd encourage you to try something other that the "waking up from a dream" surprise next time. It really more often thatn not ends up as a disappointment to the reader, who really wants your main character to work his way out of whatever predicament he's in. And if you use it too often, your readers will come to expect it, and it won't be a surprise at all!

Here's a challenge for you--next story, think of a brand new way to give it a twist-y ending...no dreams, no angels--just something new and remarkable in the person's circumstance.

Thanks for your contribution--I hope you stop in on some of the other classes, too!
Jan Ackerson

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