Nothing against trashy lingerie, but my very favorite Valentine’s tradition is that big, heart-shaped box of assorted chocolates. I love lifting the lid, getting that first rich scent of sweet decadence, and studying all the shapes and sizes, trying to guess what’s inside. My sisters and I used to make a game of it… who could guess which one had the coveted pink-cream center. I also love the coconut ones, which are easy to spot.
It ruined some of the fun for me when they started including that helpful candy road map showing exactly which candies are where in the box. What’s the fun in that? Why not just slap a calorie count on each little truffle and really destroy the moment?
I think what this says about me (and you, if you happen to be annoyed by the candy road map) is that I LIKE SURPRISES. I don’t go searching for hidden Christmas presents. I don’t want to know about the “surprise” baby shower before it happens. I don’t want to read the menu on the web site before we get to the restaurant. Am I weird? Maybe so. But sometimes it’s fun not knowing exactly what’s going to happen beforehand.
As Forest Gump said at the bus stop on his way to Jenny’s house, “Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get.”
We had a surprise this week. I had my work schedule all planned out. Every scene I needed to write outlined. Little sticky notes all over my calendar about the many things I needed to get done. I had planned the week down to the hour (isn’t that efficient?!) to make sure I didn’t forget anything.
So imagine my surprise when I found myself seated outside an orthopedist’s office with my daughter watching The Price Is Right and waiting for her ankle to be put in a cast. Did you know Drew Carey is hosting the show now? Neither did I! And did you know they finally retired those nice models and got some new faces? Another surprise. And now instead of washers and dryers, they’re giving away pilates equipment.
I’m telling you, there’s no end to surprises on daytime television.
I like surprises in fiction, too.
Sometimes when I plan things out too thoroughly, I start to get bored. That’s when I know I’m in trouble. If I’m bored, I just know the reader will be. Time to shake things up.
I write suspense books, and people often tell me when they figured out who the killer is. I sometimes smile, because in many cases, I don’t even know who it is until the last half of the book, and I have to go back and plant clues. I always start with a villain in mind, but then sometimes toward the end, the bad guy seems so obvious, I have to change my plans and switch the plot around to give things a twist.
Do you like surprises? In life? In fiction?
Tell me a surprise in your life that turned out to be a good thing, better than you expected. I’m giving away a box of chocolates and a copy of UNFORGIVABLE to one lucky winner! Some come on down! You’re the next contestant on Murder She Writes!