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Saturday, March 17, 2012

St. Patrick's Day Surprise

by Marcy Collier

Happy St. Patrick's Day!!! 

I'm half Irish and St. Patrick's day is one of my favorite holidays. As a college student, I actually looked forward to drinking the green beer and celebrating with friends. This morning, I look forward to drinking a cold glass of green milk and helping my kids discover all the mischievous tricks the leprechaun has played on us while we were asleep. They've been up since 6:30 a.m. and still haven't discovered all of his pranks.
Some of you may have no idea what I'm talking about so I'll explain with a few pictures.

Green Milk (thankfully not a full container - I'm the only one who likes it)

My dining room chandelier

Kitchen people serving Hershey kisses on spoons for breakfast!

Did the Leprechaun use the potty?
Lots of TP decorations

He put stickers all over the kids while they slept, build a fort with stuffed animals and hid Easter eggs and candy everywhere.

But this is a writing blog, what does the impish leprechaun have to do with writing you ask? The element of surprise. That little green guy wrecked havoc in the middle of night. He kept my boys busy for HOURS this morning as they tore through the house looking for clues and pranks pulled by the leprechaun. Do the same with your characters and your scenes, especially the dreaded, sagging middle. If you're getting bored with a scene, turn up the mischief. The element of surprise deviates from the anticipated outcome, but make it believable. Create tension. Force your characters out of their comfort zones.

I read a great article by Elizabeth Spann Craig on the element of surprise.

In the article, Craig describes that surprise is used as a distraction, for adding humor or quirkiness, for suspense, as a change of pace and to add depth to a character. She gives great examples on adding surprise to your story. To read the entire article, go here:

My assignment for you is to go back to your WIP, pull out three sagging scenes and weave in elements of surprise.

And for my surprise for you, I've attached a craft to make a writing shamrock that will bring you the luck 'o the Irish for your manuscript.


Have a safe and fun St. Patrick's Day!


  1. *What a fun post! And I love all of the hijinks your leprechaun was up to - wish I would have thought to do that when my kids were little (actually they'd probably still think it funny so NEXT YEAR!).
    I'm working on adding those surprises you talk about as I do revisions. They are so much easier for me to add during this stage than during the initial draft.
    Happy St. Pat's Day to you!

    1. Thanks, Dawn. I think I had as much fun as the kids. I even made green waffles to go with the milk this morning!
      I agree that it's easier to add surprises during the revision stage. Keep plugging away. I hope you had a great St. Patrick's Day!