My drug of choice is writing––writing, art, reading, inspiration, books, creativity, process, craft, blogging, grammar, linguistics, and did I mention writing?

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Prompt: Subvert Expectations (Bango)

I'm still here in Vegas (driving home tomorrow after catching a morning showing of The Last Jedi) so I wanted to do one of the shorter posts I've been thinking of lately. It's actually a prompt, but it also incorporates the art of one of my fantastically talented friends who made a really cool film.

Of course we all want to write in fresh and innovative ways, and one of the most exciting ways a writer can do that for their readers is to create plot twists that take their readers for a genuine ride. We all know the stories that go exactly like we expect, and they are familiar, and in some ways even comfortable, but many of the stories that delight us involve a twist or turn that we never saw coming.

If you have Amazon Prime, you can watch Bango (my friend's film) to get a spectacular example of how to set up and then subvert expectations. The whole film is less than fifteen minutes, and it is a spectacular example of how it doesn't take long at all to set an expectation which can then be subverted. (Note: A full list of CN's would ruin the story, but this does get a little intense. Maybe avoid it if you're having a rough day.)

If you are very much into watching the whole thing as an uninterrupted experience just keep the following thought in your head: What do I think is going to happen next.

If you'd like to do this with a little more metacognition and a couple of breaks, pause the movie and just ask yourself what you think is going to happen at 1:00, 2:30, 6:00, 9:00. You don't have to write it down or anything. Just think about it for a second and give it a moment of conscious thought.

If you don't have Amazon Prime, you can still do this prompt, but you'll have to use your own story. Think of something that had a twist or three that delighted you, and go back through the story and think about what you thought was going to happen before you found out what was really going to happen.

While there's a lot of analysis that could be done here of gender roles, the reasons for our expectations, and the characters, I'll save all that in favor of the prompt.

Prompt: Write a short story that begins with a very predictable trajectory. Subvert that expectation in a dramatic way. Then subvert even further what it seems like is going to be the outcome of the first twist. For bonus "points" do this again and have the final outcome be a further twist on the first two twists.

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