The Effective Author: The Power of Surprise Endings
© 2019 Kebba Buckley Button, MS, OM. World Rights Reserved.
Anyone who has ever read Agatha Christie novels knows how delightful the surprise endings are: the power reveal always takes place at the end, whipping our expectations around sharply. Many of the best short story writers use surprise endings, twists or turns no one would ever have imagined. Try reading, for example, Arthur C. Clarke’s 1953 short story, The Nine Billion Names of God. The last sentence rocks me again, every time I think of the story. And I think of the story fairly often because the ending jolted me so strongly. So where do we find inspiration for writing our own powerful surprise endings?
Real life often offers great surprise endings – as well as plot twists. Two examples came into my life this week. One involved a young mom and the other an email mix-up that turned into a multi-way blessing.
Picture a 20-something mom driving on a packed freeway, her baby in the properly-anchored car seat in the back. Mom takes an exit ramp, when suddenly, “out of nowhere,” a car appears and T-bones her car. The second car did not have the right-of-way and was going much faster than it should have been going. The young mom was horribly injured and incapacitated. Eventually, she had spinal surgery and is spending two months in the hospital. She will need rehab to walk again. But the baby? Somehow, the car seat flew free and landed some distance from the collision. With only minor bruising and some tears, the baby is fine. Whether you call it a miracle or simply a great thing, this was a powerful surprise ending to a terrible crash story.
In a lighter story, we have several twists leading to a surprise ending. A business group leader understands the usual monthly venue will be closed for the next meeting date. So she sends an email to the 300 women on her list telling them that this month’s lunch meeting is cancelled; members are welcome to bring their lunch to her home and just visit. However, the regular venue actually is open on the date in question. The venue sends the group leader an email, confirming the usual number of people for lunch. The group leader does not receive that email due to technical mishap. Meanwhile, one member fails to receive the leader’s email about the cancellation, so she goes to the regular venue at the usual time. She finds no other attendees, but a lunch buffet laid out for the usual number of people. She calls the group leader, who explains what she knows. This single member now at the venue happens to be a key manager of an African refugee rescue organization located several miles from the lunch venue. After some clearing up of confusion, the venue packs up the lunch-for-many, the member takes the lunch to the refugee organization, and the group leader pays by phone and receives a charitable deduction for the lunches, now put to good use. Good people resolved all those twists into a delightful win-win-win surprise ending.
Such real stories can inspire our own creation of interesting, jolting, uplifting, miraculous, and overall surprising endings. Read the newspaper, flash around YouTube, and listen to stories from friends. Keep a log of unusual stories to kickstart your story outlining. Plan, write, twist, surprise, and be ever more The Effective Authorsm.
Kebba Buckley Button is a stress management expert with a natural healing practice. She also is an ordained minister whose passion is helping people find their Peace Within. She is the author of the award-winning book, Discover The Secret Energized You, available on Amazon, plus Inspirations for Peace Within: Quotes and Images to Uplift and Inspire. IPW is available on Amazon in full-color glossy format. Her newest book is Sacred Meditation: Embracing the Divine, also on Amazon in full-color. For full-color PDF versions, contact her office. For an appointment or to ask Kebba to speak for your group: firstname.lastname@example.org.