Watching a magician pull a rabbit out of a hat is fun mostly because you don't know how the trick works. Once you start writing, you sometimes begin to notice how other writers sneak the bunny into the chapeau, and it spoils the trick for you. I had a friend who loved John Sayles' movies and brought over Lone Star, a 1996 film in which a strong subplot is the rekindling of an “old high school romance” between an Anglo sheriff's son and a young Mexican American woman. (Spoiler alert! Stop reading if you want to watch this movie) The two characters had such tremendous attraction for each other that I immediately said, “I sure hope they never find out they're brother and sister.” My friend gave me a startled and somewhat annoyed look. “Why would you say that?” she asked. “Because,” I said, invoking writerly wisdom, “that's the worst thing that could happen to them.”
Well, of course, guess what we found out about an hour later? Having figured out the rabbit was there, seeing it appear wasn't nearly as neat a trick for me as it should have been.
I have a writer friend, mindyklasky, who is in turn, good friends with Nancy Kress. Mindy went to see The Sixth Sense with Nancy, and sure enough, Nancy guessed the big secret less than halfway through the movie. I sure never saw that rabbit coming.
I also didn't see the one in Mindy's newest book When Good Wishes Go Bad. Mindy snuck a good sized rabbit into the story, and when it popped out of its hiding place, I was delighted. It's always great to see a fine craftsman at work. Everyone loves the magic of a good book.
Read any good magic tricks— er, surprise endings lately?