When in Doubt, Write it Different.

You sit there alone, staring at a blank screen, your fingers nervously and lightly tapping the letters on your keyboard, lost in thought with a phrase running amuck in your head. When in doubt, write it differently, and writers are always in doubt. Even when I approach a scene that has carefully played out in my mind and I know exactly what will happen, when it will happen, and who will laugh, cry, or die before I’ve finished, I’m in doubt. I worry about phrases. I worry about dialogue. I worry about the narration used to set the scene or establish a mood.

Writers don’t like to repeat themselves. Writers don’t want the same phrases jumping off the ends of their fingers. Writers need to concentrate on the unexpected. Writers need to write it differently.

Reach into your mental bag of tricks and pull out a paraprosdokian or two.

It can make a difference.

A paraprosdokian is a figure of speech characterized by an abrupt change of direction at the end of the sentence. It can be used for either humorous or dramatic effect. In essence, you let readers see the punch coming with your right hand, then suddenly hit them squarely between the eyeballs with your left. It surprises. It jars. It adds freshness to any narration or dialogue.

  • Where there’s a will, I want to be in it.
  • The last thing I want to do is hurt you. But it’s still on my list.
  • Since light travels faster than sound, some people appear to be bright until you hear them speak.
  • If I agreed with you, we’d both be wrong.
  • We never really grow up; we only learn how to act in public.
  • War does not determine who’s right, only who’s left.
  • Knowledge is knowing that a tomato is fruit. Wisdom is not putting it in fruit salad.
  • They begin the nightly news with Good Evening, then spend the next thirty minutes telling you why it’s not.
  • I didn’t say it was your fault. I said I was blaming you.
  • Nostalgia isn’t what it used to be.
  • There’s a thin line between cuddling up and holding someone down so they can’t get away.
  • You don’t need a parachute to sky dive. You only need a parachute to sky dive twice.
  • A clear conscience is the sure sign of a bad memory.
  • Women will never be equal to men until they can walk down the street with a baldhead and beer gut and still think they’re sexy.
  • Don’t argue with a fool. He will drag you down to his level and beat you with experience.
  • Why do Americans choose from just two people to be President and fifty to be Miss America.
  • The voices in my head may not be real, but they have some good ideas.

Jenny McCutcheon sent me this list of paraprosdokians, and they started me thinking about what I do and why I do it. I have now discovered the difference between those who write book and those who don’t.

Some people hear voices. Some see invisible people. And some have no imagination whatsoever.

Caleb Pirtle III is author of the Christian thriller, Golgotha Connection, which is offered Free today on Amazon.

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