The other day, I went to a mini-writer’s conference with author Steven James. At a certain point, he gave us a three-minute writing exercise. He said to write a short scene with a knife fight and end it in a completely unexpected way. A major point he made there was that every story (and every scene) should end in a way that it both unexpected and inevitable. I thought I’d share the silly little thing I wrote for that writing exercise:
A knife quivered in the wall next to Ned’s head, and there was another in Tommy’s hand. Ned pulled out his pen and held it up to defend himself. Tommy laughed and threw another, but it was magically deflected by the pen. Tommy smiled again, “You didn’t think I planned for that did you? I knew Albert gave you that magic pen, but I have the anti-magic-pen-knife!” Tommy held up a glowing orange knife shaped somehow like a three-hole punch.
(That’s all I had time to write in the three minutes, but I added this to finish the scene later:)
Tommy threw the anti-magic-pen-knife, knocking Ned’s magic pen to the floor. Ned picked it up, but the anti-magic-pen-knife had drained all its ink so it was no good anymore. Defenseless, Ned put his hands up in surrender…
Is it an unexpected and inevitable ending? I’m really not sure… What did you expect?