Storyteller in any medium want to surprise their audience from time to time. If the story is are about adventure or drama, or told as a thriller, delivering surprises effectively is paramount. And whereas humor can often be achieved by surprising the audience with something totally unexpected that makes no sense even when you rethink it, drama works best when the surprise comes, well, surprising in the moment, but makes a lot of sense in hindsight.
Surprising, yet inevitable is the holy grail of any kind of storytelling involving drama, suspense or mystery.
To achieve the surprising, yet inevitable effect, the surprising thing has to be there already, but cleverly hidden, before it is revealed.
- In theory, textual media have an advantage here, because – again, in theory – the author can simply omit to mention the fact before it is revealed.
- In practice, this can be used wonderfully in short stories.
- It it will usually work rather badly in a novel, if the reveal happens late in the story and the surprising fact has to be omitted for to long: “WTF. You gave me a whole chapter with the hero trimming his nose hairs – pretty gross, by the way – but you forgot to mention he has a f****** computer chip implanted in his brain???”
- Visual media need to use tricks to surprise the audience, often hiding things in plain sight so they are seen but not noticed.
On the screen, in movies and TV shows, good camera work, editing and visual effects can produce astonishing success in this regard, but I’d argue that webcomics have an advantage here because, as I mentioned last week, they can naturally get away with arranging shots and panel layout in a clever way, whereas in movies or TV shows advanced techniques are more noticeable.
Since talking about anything that is supposed to be a great surprise is by definition a SPOILER, please make sure you are up to date on these comics, or don’t care about spoilers, and CLICK for more to read on (and maybe write a comment).