You’ve Been Shyamalaned!

Novel Progress:

Rough. I had a rough time redoing chapters three and four. There were a few dead ends that I had to write my way around… usually by deleting.

Writing Advice: Surprise Endings!

Who doesn’t like a good surprise? Me, for one. Especially when you know there’s a surprise coming up. I mean, they’re okay and such, but sometimes it feels like the whole narrative was written for the “GOTCHA!” moment at the end.

I mean, write a surprise if it’s good. Plot twists are awesome. But sometimes it feels like nothing more than an “it was all a dream” moment.

Remember, once the surprise is finished, the narrative is finished. There’s no point in going back. “The Sixth Sense,” for instance. It’s fine movie. However, it’s not one that needs watching twice. Once you get the “ooOOOOH!” moment at the end, there’s no fun in watching the movie again knowing Bruce Willis was a ghost the whole time.


Oops. Placed that wrong. If you haven’t gotten to it in the last sixteen years, here’s another spoiler for you: Bruce Willis is overrated and manifestly uninterested in acting.

Maybe I can understand a person watching it a second time to catch all the clues. But if you find someone who says “‘The Sixth Sense’ is my favorite movie! I’ve seen is twenty-seven times in a row,” make no furtive movements around that person. Back away and call someone to tell them your location and who you’re with.

Speaking of useless surprises, did you know that Bruce Willis released a blues album in the 1980s? Don’t seek it out. I don’t know if it is out of circulation, but if there is any justice in the universe, it is. Some people use their star power to fight hunger. Bruce Willis used his star power to play harmonica and sing with the robust vehemence of a drunk uncle at a seven year old’s birthday party.

Oh, Uncle Matt. We told you to get help…

There may be someone out there who says that really it’s not a bad album and that if one listens to it without prejudice they’ll find their foot a-tappin’. And to that person, I say, “shut up, Scott. Again with the ‘Return of Bruno’ reappraisal. There’s only so many times you can polish a turd.”

A neat thing about writing is that you always win the argument.

So when it comes to surprise endings, keep this in mind: Scott wouldn’t know a good song if it crawled up his nose and poked his eye out from behind. I wish to hire a songwriter to write a song that does exactly that and test my theory. Know anyone with the chops?

Also, knowing the end of a surprise story is like knowing the end of a joke. Once you know the punchline, there is zero need to go back and hear the joke again. So don’t make the surprise the whole point of your story.

Also, Bruce Willis sucks. Yeah, I went there.


What is your opinion about surprise endings? Hackneyed, or only the most exciting thing to ever happen to art. Ever. Perhaps there is a happy medium in there somewhere.