Wednesday, August 7, 2019

IWSG: Taking Myself by Surprise

Welcome to the first Wednesday of the month. You know what that means! It's time to let our insecurities hang out. Yep, it's the Insecure Writer's Support Group blog hop. If you're a writer at any stage of career, I highly recommend this blog hop as a way to connect with other writers for support, sympathy, ideas, and networking.

If you're a reader, it's a great way to peek behind the curtain of a writing life.

This month's wonderful co-hosts are Renee Scattergood, Sadira Stone, Jacqui Murray, Tamara Narayan, and LG Keltner! Be sure to check out their blogs, and some of the others in this blog hop after you see what I've got to say this month. 

The August 7 question - Has your writing ever taken you by surprise? For example, a positive and belated response to a submission you'd forgotten about or an ending you never saw coming?

Surprise is the heart of the fun of a writing life for me. Nothing thrills me more than when a character throws a monkey wrench into the works by announcing a sudden change in what I thought was the plan. Sometimes I want to throw it right back at her--especially if it means major revisions which can be a lot of hard work--but those sudden inspirations lead to the best work and I'm always happy to see them. 

I know some writers who are heavy duty plotters, and though I've become a bit of a plantser (half-pantser, half plotter) as my career has progressed, I don't see the fun in writing if I already know where the story is going. 

I think of myself as a discovery writer--writing to learn what this story and these characters are about, what they have to say. Anything else feels too safe to me. Why would I write what I already know? 

The subconscious works in mysterious ways and it's always neat to see the groundwork my own brain has laid out in a story without telling me about it. 

In my Menopausal Superheroes series (no spoilers!), there's a character who surprised me with a love affair in book three. When I took it to my critique group in draft, I expected them to rake me over the coals for springing a romance on them out of left field. Instead, the reaction was more like, "Well, it's about time." Apparently my readers already knew, even if the characters hadn't told me yet. And sure enough, as I read back through, the breadcrumbs were there. You wouldn't think a writer could sneak up on herself like that, but, apparently, I can. 

That's also why I delight in trying new genres, styles, and types of characters in each project. I like to surprise me! And when it goes well, my readers enjoy the surprise, too. 

What kind of surprises have you enjoyed in what your reading, writing, or viewing? 


  1. Ha! I love that the readers already knew it was coming.
    I feel like my writing is constantly surprising me.

  2. I find writing much more fun if I don't know where the story is going. I usually have a vague idea, but I let the characters reveal it word by word.

  3. I'm a plantser myself too, so I'm usually on the look out for the possible surprises my characters would throw my way. And usually just got with it. Less of a headache that way. Besides it's their story anyway, so who else would know better than they?

  4. I love that "it's about time" comment from your CPs. Writers can totally sneak up on themselves. I'm a hardcore plotter, and I do it all the time. :)

  5. This is the second time that someone described themselves as discovery writers. Cool way to look at yourself. That's great that you are open to so many changes and surprises. I'm trying to be more like that too.

  6. Sometimes the readers know before we do!

  7. I just started following your blog again. I used to follow it and I'm not sure what happened! I thought you stopped blogging, but apparently I just wasn't getting notifications anymore. I've had that problem with a few of the blogs I've been following. :(

    1. I'm happy to see you again! Notifications are a wonky kind of magic, and sometimes they get out of whack.

  8. I'll take surprised in reading over writing, because the writing surprises can involve oh so much editing.