Is it better to be right, or entertained? Or do those two have to be mutually exclusive of one another?
Over the weekend, I got hit with a bunch of inspiration for story ideas. (Naturally. I quit writing, why wouldn’t inspiration come now?) So I started playing around in InfoPath* from Microsoft, which I have loaded on my computer.
Anyway, the form makes use of the three-act story structure format, which I break into basic components like First Act, First Plot Point, Pinch Point 1 and 2, etc.
So, I click on the “Fill In Form” button on my template and a new form pops up ready to be filled in. I use the Tab key to go from field to field and I fill out what I need to fill out. When I’m done I have a pretty good short synopsis or unbulleted outline of my story idea, ready to be worked further into a written piece.
I had two possible stories so I filled out a couple of forms . And as I did so I discovered I had a few options with one of the ideas. In one scenario, the story goes one direction, but when the plot goes the other direction it adds an unexpected twist to the story, especially if the writer has carefully written the piece and doesn’t telegraph the ending.
My wife read that option and said, “I don’t like this one. I’d rather invest my trust and sympathy with this character and be right than do so and be surprised.”
As writers, “surprise” is a good thing. A very good thing. We like readers to be surprised. But what about you, dear readers?
When you’re watching a movie, or reading a book, or playing a video game, or whatever, would you rather be right, or be surprised? For readers, if you’re chugging along rooting for a character and find out late in the book the character isn’t what you thought, are you disappointed, or happily surprised? (Assume here the writing is well done and the turn of the character isn’t lame or ridiculous.)
Movie fans, do you like to be surprised by movies or would you rather say “I knew it!” and be right about the characters and/or story?
Sound off, everyone! I wait with bated breath for your input!
-JDT (who would rather be right but wants YOU to be surprised)-
All original content copyright 2010 DarcKnyt
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* – InfoPath allows you to create and fill out forms which then store the data from the controls on the form somewhere useful – a database, server location, intranet site, yadda yadda – for use at another time. Me, I just use it to keep stuff on my local drive, which I have to trick InfoPath into believing is a server location. (As an aside, I did the same thing a few months back with a Word template and protected sections; I can use either depending on mood, but interestingly, InfoPath doesn’t allow me to go from XML file to Word document even though Microsoft claims the .docx format is XML-based. Go figure.)