Have you ever noticed how some things in your life are so every day that you don’t even think about it? Until something changes.
And I can prove it. Do you remember the opening to the old Dick VanDyke show? Without telling anyone, the characters moved a footstool, and the results are seen again and again in each show opening.
Now you try it, move that piece of furniture and watch what happens. Some people are going to trip over it, others will walk into it while other people may automatically walk around it without registering what they’re doing. Until they look around trying to figure out what’s different.
I’m a little bit sneaky. I used to wait until my husband was out of town, or late at night when he wouldn’t notice, and that’s when I would rearrange the furniture. The hubby is pretty observant, and within five or six minutes he always seems to catch on to what was happening. But once in a while, I can catch him. Want to really find out what happens? Wait until your kids go away to college and rearrange the room. Then watch their expression when they come home and go to throw their backpack on the bed- and it’s on the other side of the room.
Yes, we form habits in our daily life; the way we walk around furniture, the way you move around your house, and for us writers the way we write. But don’t you want to shake things up once in a while and move a piece of furniture? Or for writers- change things up in the way you write.
Make your characters a little crazy, instead of straightlaced and deadpan. Murder a likable character instead of the villain, give your protagonist unusual traits that you wouldn’t expect. These are a few ways to shake up your writing. It might feel uncomfortable to you as a writer, but the readers will love it. And if you’re honest, you know there are times when you need to shake things up. Who wants to keep reading the same mundane book over and over again. Some tropes are becoming worn out, and that’s why when a writer changes things up just a little bit it catches the reader’s attention. This will help sales and gives you the incentive to write the next book.
So go ahead and move that piece of furniture. Put it right in the way where someone’s going to trip over it and grab their attention. Of course, I’m talking about the metaphoric furniture in your book; we don’t want to do any physical harm to our friends and family.
As a reader, has something caught your attention that a writer has included in the book that you were expecting?
As a writer, what can you do to change things up, keeping your writing fresh and your readers interested?
If you’ve had experience as a writer or a reader when a store has caught you by surprise, feel free to share!