Both readers and writers can benefit from a surprise once in a while.

Creating surprises in your writing can take many forms. You can surprise a reader by choosing a word that is new to them - or at least one that is rarely used.  Consider ailurophile - one who is a cat lover, or bucolic - a lovely rural setting. 

Or consider a surprising metaphors. "A hospital bed is a parked taxi with the meter running." - Groucho Marx or  "Let us be grateful to people who make us happy, they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom." Marcel Proust

Similes are another great way to surprise your reader. A simile uses the words like or as to form an image for your reader. "The snow fell like billions of breadcrumbs, promising a flurry of activity and a huge pile of shit in the aftermath."

Finally you can create a surprise for your reader by a turn of plot or by a character doing something, well, uncharacteristic. Some ideas for how to surprise: 
  • have a character share an embarrassing secret
  • cause your character to fail at achieving their goal
  • increase the emotion in a scene or change the expected emotion
  • introduce a new character in an unusual way
Creating surprises for your reader ensures your reader will want to keep going. Creating surprises while you write does the same thing for you. So go on - surprise me!


D. Jean Quarles is a writer of Women's Fiction and a co-author of a Young Adult Science Fiction Series. Her latest book, Flight from the Water Planet, Book 1 of The Exodus Series was written with coauthor, Austine Etcheverry.

D. Jean loves to tell stories of personal growth – where success has nothing to do with money or fame, but of living life to the fullest. She is also the author of the novels: Rocky's Mountains, Fire in the Hole and, Perception. The Mermaid, an award winning short story was published in the anthology, Tales from a Sweltering City.  

She is a wife, mother, grandmother and business coach. In her free time . . . ha! ha! ha! Anyway, you can find more about D. Jean Quarles, her writing and her books at her website at

You can also follower her at or on Facebook


Heidiwriter said...

I like this, Jean! And I like surprises like these when I'm reading.

Magdalena Ball said...

Surprises are crucial in all types of writing Jean. I like your suggestions (and metaphors should always be fresh and startling). There's nothing quite like an intense and powerful plot twist.

Linda Wilson said...

I agree and am glad you zeroed in on surprises, Jean. I will keep your post for reference. Thanks!

Karen Cioffi said...

Jean, you're so right. Part of keeping the reader interested is adding surprises. I love the 'surprising metaphor' quotes!

Mary Jo Guglielmo said...

Jean I agree. I especially like surprises in the plot line.

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