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We Don't Like Surprises

Yes, I've been watching a teen vampire show. It's surprisingly clever, and it's giving me blog fodder. So, I'll stick with it for now.

There's a tussle between two boys--who have been at each other's throats for many episodes now--but after getting punched one asks the other, "Why are you like this?"

"I don't know," the other replies, as he stumbles into a new camera angle that looks like this:

See the Moon There?

Earlier in this episode we learned that these two characters like sketching fantasy characters and monsters. So we, as an audience--even if you're still not sure what the moon has to do with vampires--are prepped for the "big reveal" later in the series. Granted, I don't know for sure yet, but it's coming...

Speaking of: I was horribly disappointed by this moment in Game of Thrones:

The Twist Out of Nowhere

I realize that moment is in the book. I get that it came out of nowhere in the book. I hear that people threw their copies of the book against the wall when they read this. I hear something similar happened when people saw this moment on screen.


I don't think it's for the same reason that the author and the producers think. It's not because it's earth shattering or genre-bending or so intense. People are angry because this event comes completely out of the blue.

What does this mean?

We don't like surprises. Not at all. We like twists--we love twists--but only when we see them coming. Don't spell it out, but let us know that something--something crazy--is headed our way. Then when the impossible happens, like, say, a main character suddenly gets axed, we'll jump up and down, scream, cry, hug our friends, rant and rave about the moment... but we'll have had fun. As it was with the moment above, I wandered upstairs and said to my wife, "Umm... I think that just happened. I guess I'll find out if it really did next episode."

It was such a surprise that it felt like a dream sequence, not a major plot point.

Give your audience a chance to come along in the journey. Don't tell them stand in the middle of the road and then hit them with a tank. That's not any fun.

 ~Luke Holzmann
Your Media Production Mentor

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