Monday, November 1, 2010

When surprise doesn't suck

Not all of us love surprises. In fact, some of us loathe them. I happen to love them, as long as they're good.
But you'll never win me over with any of the following:

"I'm not really a woman. Surprise!"
"That's not rice you're eating. It's maggots. Surprise!"
"Surprise! I don't really love you!"
"I was going to take you on an exotic vacation for a week but instead decided to let you get caught up on housework instead. Surprise!"
"He's not your real father. Surprise!"
"I don't love your manuscript but the good news is, I love you! Surprise!"
"I'm leaving you for another woman. A much younger, prettier-HEALTHIER-woman. But you can have the house. Surprise!"

Just so you know, if you come near me with one of those, your "surprise" may turn into an ear punch. But then there are those times a surprise is so good, the mere shock of it lasts for days, weeks even, in a totally amazing kind of way. Be it in  your story or in life, surprises can be a very good thing.

Take the offspring's dance teacher, Miss Maria, for example. Wednesday was an ordinary class for her. Just the usual three and four-year-olds rolling around on the floor instead of actually listening to her. It was Parent Watch Night and you could see the relief on her face when the (longest) half-hour (ever) was (finally) over.

And then behind her, out of nowhere, comes in a man. He walked with his hands behind his back and a slight quiver to his lip. He tip-toed up behind her, and then did this:
With some nervous ramblings in front of a room full of romantics, he did the MOST romantic thing a man in love can do. And she was completely surprised. So surprised, she was speechless. But of course, she said yes.
After that night, I realized there are some problems with my beloved ms, including some places where the element of surprise is lacking. I want readers to have that feeling of OMG I CAN'T BELIEVE YOU GOT ME, just like Maria...

What about you, friends? Do you like surprises? 
Candyland. OUT.

41 comments:

Anne said...

Awww. How sweet! When I was a waitress I would see proposals quite a bit. Which is nice and all... but it was TGIFridays.

Linda G. said...

Awww. So sweet! :)

As a rule, I am not a fan of surprises. I like to be on top of things, to know what's coming up, to be prepared. But every now and then a nice surprise (like the one above) is okay. I can deal with it. ;)

N. R. Williams said...

Oh yes, I love surprises in the same amazing way you do. Alas, my hubby isn't a romantic either.
Nancy
N. R. Williams, fantasy author

salarsenッ said...

That is a sweet story! Yup, I love surprises. But you hit it head on: good ones. LOL

February Grace said...

...sometimes! But rarely in medical settings. In medical settings you want to hear "No surprises there, everything went just as planned!"

~bru

Lenny Lee! said...

hi miss candace! wow that was a real neat love story for sure! for me i looooove surprises! but not bad ones.
...hugs from lenny

Sheila (Bookjourney) said...

Super great post! These are the things you only see in movies and then turn to my hubby and say, "Why aren't you more romantic?" LOL

I really am not a surprise fan either, although my hubby has surprise partied me twice.... I did it back once and then asked him that we never do that to each other again. :)

A. Grey said...

My love of surprises varies wildly, depending on the surprise... but in general, I love them...

And in a book I'm reading, I ALWAYS love them... even the ones that suck, because in writing I just love it when someone can take me by the blindside. It's harder and harder to find that the more I write, and I miss the moments of utter astonishment, be they followed by joy or outrage.

Shannon said...

Awww...I love this. Great way to start the week!

I love surprises - even the bad ones. :)

Matthew Rush said...

You were obviously not so surprised that you couldn't whip out the camera phone. Well done grasshopper, well done.

Me? I love surprises, but I'm usually so oblivious that I get surprised by everything. Maybe that's why I'm not so good at writing them ...

Patti said...

Like you I don't mind being surprised, but usually it's in the privacy of my own home, not in public.

aspiring_x said...

oh! so cute!
good application for writing too!
hmmm....

Lola Sharp said...

Awww..that's sweet. :)

But, I prefer intimate things to be done to me in more intimate settings.

I like how you worked in the writing comparison. :)

Shannon O'Donnell said...

Oh, that is so dang sweet! Yep. He's a keeper! :-)

I LOVE how you tied this to our writing - sneaky. Very sneaky. :-)

LTM said...

omg! And BRAVE!!! I'm always nervous for those fellas who take chances like that... but you know, one of those "bad" surprises can actually be good--the whole "don't love MS, but love you." That can turn into, "send me your next MS..." Surprise! ;o) <3

Colene Murphy said...

Oh gosh yes! Love good surprises! I need to add, and hope to have already, some good ones in my MS. Hard to judge though, in a novel.

My husband used to have a bad habit of telling me when he was planning a surprise then it just didn't work out for whatever reason. Like "Yea, I was going to take you to dinner and that movie you have been dying to see then see about buying you a new book but I couldn't get off work in time." until I threatened to rip his head off if he kept on with the almost surprises.

Jessica Bell said...

Aw, wow! That's is just adorable. Funny how life around us makes us realise things about our writing all of the sudden! Good luck getting those surprise elements into your ms! :o)

Dawn said...

Sweet, though I would have died if my hubby proposed in public. I have no doubt you'll work those surprises into your ms :-)

Tahereh said...

sooooo cute!!

and i love how you brought it back around to your novel. so so true :D

Melissa Gill said...

Oh, what a sweet proposal

Maria said...

Ah! I love this! You're such a good writer :)

~Nicole Ducleroir~ said...

Sweetest thing ever! And I was cracking up at your Surprise! statements. Too funny!!

Have a great week, sistah!

notesfromnadir said...

Thank you for sharing this beautiful story! I'm sure every1 in that room was surprised! :)

Nate Wilson said...

In private, surprises are great. In public, they're only great when I'm the surpriser, not the surprisee.

In fiction, however, they should be a requirement.

Stephanie said...

LOVE LOVE LOVE surprises!!!! All kinds!! We keep our Halloween costumes a secret until the party...we didn't know with either child what the sex was... I love being surprised and surprising people. I'm planning a secret weekend getaway for my daughter's birthday! Can't wait to see her face when she realizes what's going on!

Talli Roland said...

Aw! That's so lovely! I can only imagine how surprised she was - and what a brave, romantic man!

Donna Hosie said...

I hate surprises, (I admit to turning to the last chapter of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix to see who died before starting the novel!), but that story was adorable.

Nicole Zoltack said...

Aww! Some surprises are worthwhile. Others, not so much.

LReneeS said...

Awww, such a sweet post, Candy! That was a really cute story you told too! I know what you mean with wanting your ms to have surprises. It's like you want to keep readers on the edge of their seat and have them thinking one thing but the opposite happens.
Surprises...are good usually. But when they're bad..then that's another story.

--Lindsey

VICTORIA SAAVEDRA said...

Romance does exist :)

I like surprise!

Robyn Campbell said...

Oh man, how AWESOME. And you're right. That element of surprise always makes the reader want more. Great post. Congratulations to Maria. :) She's got a great guy.

Dianne K. Salerni said...

How incredibly sweet! And what a neat thing to witness!

Yes, sometimes a surprise can be good. (not often, I'll grant you, but sometimes)

Abby Minard said...

Sometimes surprises are a little much for me, like when I get a call from the inlaws: Surprise! We're in town and on your doorstep!

But Hubsies surprised me with a weekend trip to our honeymoon place on our 5 year anniversary- it was so sweet! He even called my boss to ask if I could have off one of the days! That was a great surprise.

Jen Daiker said...

I loved this!! Though I'm not one for surprises, it was sweet :)

Sharon K. Mayhew said...

As I was reading your post I was right there with you on surprises...

Then I got to the dance class proposal...you made me cry. WTG!

Nice surprise!

Solvang Sherrie said...

How romantic! That's a lovely surprise. While I might not like some surprises in real life, I very much want them in the books I read. If nothing surprises me about the story, then it isn't very interesting.

Julie said...

I LOVE surprises!! I need to work on the whole element of surprise thing too...what a great story!

Rachel said...

Fun idea to think about today and what an adorable story! Don't you just love when you see romance in real life like that? Now I feel all inspired to write my romantic scenes today :-)
Glad I stumbled across your blog. Am following now and look forward to reading more!

Kelley said...

Thats adorable!
As for me i like surprises if they truly are a surprise of which i had no knowledge of at all.
However i hate it when people tell me they have a surprise for me. it drives me insane!!!

Shain Brown said...

I guess an ear punch is better than being cut.

Kelly Breakey said...

I know I am late...but that just warms the cockles of my heart. BTW what the F@#$ are cockles? I don't know.

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