November 7, 2012

The Element of Surprise

by Gary Fearon, Creative Director

"Surprise, surprise, surprise!" isn't just a favorite Gomer Pyle catch phrase, but an essential element in anything we create to attract an audience. It's alive in the punchline of a comedian's joke, in the chord change that makes a song catchy, and in the turn of events that move a storyline along.

"The secret to humor is surprise," said Aristotle, who just might have been the first to laugh at someone slipping on a banana peel. His philosophy could easily and correctly be adapted into "the secret of all entertainment is surprise".

When we didn't see something coming and our anticipation does a 180, we react with emotions that run the gamut from laughter to shock.  In every case, the fact that we weren't expecting this new development makes it interesting. The more surprises we can inject into our creation, the more compelling it becomes.

Robert Frost said, "No tears in the writer, no tears in the reader. No surprise in the writer, no surprise in the reader."  May we surprise ourselves with something wonderful every time we sit down to write.

Meanwhile, it comes as no surprise to us that great writers also make great conversationalists.  That was definitely the case when we engaged in delightful dialogue with the authors who appear on our very first Southern Writers Radio Show, which debuted this weekend.  This quarterly webcast delves into the nitty gritty of wordsmithery with the help of awesome authors who also appear in the magazine.

Sandra Balzo tells us how she gives her mystery readers clues to whodunit in books like Triple Shot while still protecting the surprise ending. Pamela King Cable shares with our Editor-in-Chief, Susan Reichert, the surprising behind-the-scenes experience that led her to write her new novel, Televenge. Kala Ambrose explores a city full of spooky surprises in her travel guide to the other side, Spirits of New Orleans.  And, in a lively game, the hilarious Rhonda Rhea has to navigate a wordy challenge we surprise her with.  Can she do it?  You'll be surprised!

With additional segments on self-promotion, social media and book proposals, Danny Iny, Edie Melson and Terry Whalin provide the rest of what you'll find to be an informative and inspirational slice of the writing life, from the voices of experience.

Tune into Southern Writers Radio Show online anytime, with the click of a button. It's our newest venue for authors, and one more way to connect you great Southern writers with other great Southern writers.  Happy listening!

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