If there is no surprise for the writer, there will be no surprise for the reader.

Frost once said “No surprise for the writer, no surprise for the reader.” What does this mean exactly? Aren’t writers supposed to deliver the answers to all of our questions. But… what if we do not even know what our questions are until the writer asks it. If the writer is not discovering, the writer’s words will fall flat on the page. There is a misconception that writers write because they know something and want to share it and while that may be true in many cases, it is not always the case in much of the great literature and fiction we love. Writers write because they want to find things out. This does not relate only to facts and informational things, but also to philosophical things, emotional things, intangible things.
Instead of writing a story to provide  only an answer, the author who writes a story based on a question, shares the gift of discovery or the DESIRE for discovery with his reader, which the reader may not have even known she possesses. Kind of like when tasting a new dish, having no idea it would taste THAT good until after the meal has been prepared and placed on the table in front of you.
“Why are we here?” “Where do we go after we die?” “Do we just stop existing or do we continue some place else?” “Are human beings either good or bad or is there a bit of good and bad in all of us?” “If people have both good and evil inside, what makes some people draw out the good and others the bad?”
As mentioned in my previous blogs, (this is a driving belief for me ) , we are taught to write the two words “What if..” when we are lost for an idea for a new story:   “What if we are here on earth over and over until we get it right?” “What if all people are capable of evil yet only those who are not nurtured early in their lives draw from that evil while others who are loved become only loving and compassionate beings?”   By questioning and discovering, the writer opens doors once locked in the reader’s mind- untouched or nurtured, which invites new thought and reflection, lighting up the dark, neglected corners of our minds.

I would think that Frost would agree that a surprise uncovered and shared by the writer is the true gift for the reader, encouraging the reader to imagine,  reflect, desire, to think and to feel. To work toward discovery is to achieve discovery. And oh my, just like that new dish that turned out to taste so delightful -what a surprise indeed!

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