The Big 5-0
In just over a week, I will hit the half-century mark, the BIG 5-0, 50 years-old. Anytime anyone or anything survives that long, people see it as a major milestone and, on most occasions, feel the need to celebrate the event. In my case, it was done with a surprise birthday party. The key word is “surprise.”
I grew up on a healthy diet of Sherlock Holmes and Batman, so when things are not quite the way they should be around the house I tend to notice. Recently, my wife began receiving phone calls from my mother which she would take in the other room; that is not a normal occurrence. Mom will usually call me, and if she has a message for my wife I will relay it to her. I knew the party was coming, but I didn’t know when.
The “when” came this past Saturday, twelve days before my actual birthday. I was lured to my parents’ house by a half-truth (my sister—who thought up the surprise party idea—wanted to see my new grandson.) Unfortunately, she and my brother-in-law had to make an emergency detour to a medical emergency facility to have my nephew’s finger checked. Since this disrupted their plans, my dear wife began delaying our plans. Another clue something was up.
When we finally reached my parents’ house, I opened the door to a host of family wishing me an early happy birthday. The only reaction I gave was a nod before I began talking to my nephew about his finger. Despite my facade of indifference, however, I was genuinely touched by my family taking time out of their day to celebrate my birthday.
When writing, if you are going to use clues and lead up to a surprise of some sort, at some point you will have to—or, at least, you should—show your reader what normal is in each situation so your clue has a greater impact. Once all of your clues are revealed and tied together, make sure your characters have a better reaction than mere indifference. Of course, if you do have a character that seems unimpressed by the big reveal, there might be more to him or her than meets the eye.
Just thought I would jot this down.