It occurs to me that the story I told in yesterday's post provides an example of another of ScriptShadow's twelve points. As a bonus, this point is one of my favorite things to see a writer pull off in a script.

Number 8 – SURPRISE!

Surprise applies to more than plot twists. It's also a powerful character tool. I love it when the wrong person surprises everyone and says the right thing – thereby making previously obvious choices difficult.

In The Piano, the heroine believes true intimates should be able to read each other's mind. The right man never manages the trick while his finger-chopping rival succeeds. The heroine is surprised – and forced to reevaluate her choices.

In Sleepless In Seattle, Bill Pullman's schlubby fiancĂ© seems destined for dumping. He turns the tables, stands up for himself, and dumps Meg Ryan instead. Sure, Meg winds up with Tom at the top of the Empire State Building. But her once obvious choice is tinged with surprise – and a little bittersweet regret.

The otherwise mediocre film Waitress contains a wonderful, unexpected scene – worth the price of admission on its own. At the film's climax, the brutal husband learns that his wife has secretly plotted to leave him. The audience – and the wife – expect an abusive confrontation. Instead, the guy throws himself on his knees and tells his wife every tender word of love she has longed to hear. He's still the wrong guy, in a major way. But the protagonist's clear path is suddenly not so clear – which is unsurprisingly, exactly what one wants in a drama.

No comments: