You’ve seen them in books and movies. Those turnabouts called by a number of names—“reveals”, “revelations,” “twists” or “surprises”. They add a lot to a story and make it much more interesting.
What you never want to do is make your story predictable or derivative where the reader or viewer says, “Yeah. I know what comes next.” Makes for a boring story. I used the surprise of reveal device many times in my stories and I get the result I was looking for from my readers.
Case in point. In my first Jeremy Nash novel – A Taste of the Apocalypse – I have a major character turn on Jeremy Nash and the Mossad agent Sabra in a very surprising scene. A reader told me that what transpired was like a punch in the stomach.
Dave Farland wrote about these surprises.
The truth is that writers love a reveal because we as an audience love a reveal. We crave those juicy little surprises that pop up in a good story. In fact, as a writer, I crave them so much that I often like to write by the seat of my pants often just so that I can have those nice little surprises jump out at me as I’m writing. You know what I mean—those moments when you discover that the protagonist’s best friend is really the killer that they’ve both been hunting throughout the book. Sometimes the idea will strike you, and you’ll look back at your story, and see that it seems you’ve been setting up that surprise all along.
A good writer will season his work with surprises, peppering them in.
Read more of his comments on surprises here.
As I develop my next novel, Gaigin, I consciously look for places to put in reveals that will surprise the reader.