The Value of the Unexpected

woman on motorcycle, 20th century
Great-aunt Mary


This is Great-aunt Mary. She and her husband lived in Cincinnati, Ohio, over the bar they owned and operated. Her mother was a strict Southern Baptist and disapproved so strongly that she refused to visit them.


But Mary was definitely a free spirit. Given that, you might not be surprised to hear that besides riding a motorcycle, she flew a small plane. She once went canoeing alone on the Ohio River when it was at flood stage.The unexpected thing about Aunt Mary is that she always said she was “too nervous” to drive a car! Interesting as she was anyway, this last adds another layer of richness.


And so it is with your fictional characters: if everything is consistent and predictable, why would anyone read to learn more?


Takeaway for writers

Always try to include something surprising or unexpected.


Writing 101: The Value of the Unexpected

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