The Quirky Ladies is a group of eclectic (and dare I say quirky?) ladies who are passionate about writing romantic fiction. All types of romantic fiction...paranormal, fantasy, historical, erotic and contemporary. Bring it on!

Sunday, February 28, 2010


A little over a week ago I experienced one of those sweet, wonderful moments in life. My beautiful, amazing, fantabulous husband threw me a surprise party. The sweetie had been planning it since early December in order to celebrate my first successes in publishing.

Now, I am a hard woman to surprise. He's tried a party before for my thirtieth, but called off the surprise attempt when I put up too many roadblocks. Inadvertently of course. There's a disadvantage to being the one holding the reins on the family schedule. Any attempts to change that schedule are suspect. But the big lug pulled it off this time. I swore like an inspired sailor when my guests all showed up in one big lump outside my door as I innocently answered the knock, but I think they forgave me.

The party got me thinking about the nature of surprises. They come in all shapes and sizes. I am a plotter by nature (big shock given that tight rein I mentioned earlier). Unless I know where a story is going, I can't begin to write. That being said, age has mellowed this approach. As long as I'm relatively secure in my direction, I can become pleasantly surprised when a new twist leaps into my stories via my muse. It happened to me recently as I neared the end of my current work in progress. I thought the story would end at one point, and then an avalanche of ideas buried me with ways to take the final action scene farther. Once I learned to trust enough in my stories I opened to the surprises along the way. This allows for richer stories and greater satisfaction as my mind makes unexpected connections that add depth to my books.

I believe that same process is what made it possible for my husband to plan the party successfully. Although my general nature remains the same, I've mellowed into my life, creating room for fun in new wild and wacky combinations. Having successfully maneuvered the big question marks of my youth and established a general tempo for the middle years of my life, I feel safe enough to appreciate a divergence from that tempo. So maybe I still look before I leap, but at least I leap more often.

How is everyone else with surprises? Are you open to them? Can you relax into them when they arrive? (In this case I mean the positive surprises. The unpleasant ones are the subject of another post.) Has maturing affected your view of them? And if you are a writer, do you surprise yourself in your stories?

Let me know.



Penelope said...

Nice post, Michelle. Surprises are my favorite part of writing, and why I can't stop pantsing my stories even though it's driving me to drink.

I like getting that little thrill when the words start to write themselves and you think, "Well Hell, I didn't see that one coming!"

Your party rocked, by the way!

Dalton Diaz said...

Wish we'd had a video camera on you when you opened that door!

I love going back and reading words I've written and realizing they're not so bad after all, or even better, they really fit the story.