Thursday, February 04, 2016

Time Out Thursday: Great Unexpectations

PHS Columnist and Harlequin Historical author Nicole Locke asks - Why can't we expect Unexpectedness?

Recently, I had the privilege or the insanity to take two back-to-back trips (despite deadlines). The first was a bucket list trip to Madrid with my mum and cousin. The second was with my family to Paris (mum still in tow). 

I went to Madrid to see my two favourite paintings. I teared up seeing Guernica, because yes, the painting is that powerful.

I was fascinated by Bosch’s Garden of Earthly Delights. After all, 16th Century Bosch makes Dali look like Disney.
In Paris, we saw the usual sights (Notre Dame, Sainte-Chapelle, Louvre, etc.). They were as lovely as they’ve ever been.
After all the anticipation and planning did I appreciate the trips? In truth, the cities' expectedness…disappointed me.

With Madrid, I wanted more of a thrill. What I didn’t realise was that because I live in London, I’m used to a city and all that it offers. With Paris, I lived there for a time, and as a family we’ve taken several trips. Since it’s been years, I expected nostalgia and delight, but everything was too familiar. Both cities were beautiful, but…expected, and it almost killed the trips for me.
I’m that way with my current story. I’m up against deadlines (the holidays, and those trips did me no favours). However, because I knew I’d be against such restraints, I made a detailed outline that...almost killed the story.

So will I never travel again, or will the story not be written? No. Because as any traveller or writer knows, it is the unexpected that thrills, surprises and motivates us.

And my family's reactions to Madrid and Paris provided plenty of unexpectedness. From my 6yo daughter vomiting after seeing her favourite painting in the Louvre (I had a plastic bag at the ready). To the intensity of Flamenco dancers and the pure sweat they flung as we watched from our front table dining experience (more Cava please).

For the current story? Well, while I was feeling the grind of each word, my heroine unexpectedly reacted to the hero's father's death. Obviously, she felt sorrow and sympathy, but that wasn't all she felt or all that she did. Startled at this great unexpectedness, I gleefully typed away.

Where does Unexpectedness come from? I don’t know. A million hidden places and directions I can never guess. I wish I did, if only so I could expect and depend on it. For its thrilling appearance motivates us when exploring other countries and when writing what happens next. A part of me wishes, at the very least, that when it does appear I could bottle it up and save it for the next grinding day.

Even so, I no longer dread planning my next trip. I, also am no longer struggling to write the story.
Because though I neither know where Unexpectedness comes from nor how to bottle it up, there’s one thing I do know with certainty. Great Unexpectations won’t happen at all if I don’t set my feet on different soil or type the next word.
 --  Nicole (-: 

Nicole’s celebrating the release anniversary of her first book The Knight’s Broken Promise, with a Goodreads Giveaway beginning February 2nd. To find out more about Nicole Locke, visit her website, and follow her on Twitter.

Has anyone had Unexpectedness save their day?



  1. I hear you, Nicole! I'm writing a draft right now, and I felt that delightful thrill of an unexpected plot twist. Came out of nowhere! Love that!

    Your trips sound amazing. I'm so glad you were able to get away!

  2. I wish we could experience more of those unexpected plot twists. Hard to explain how absolutely thrilling they can be, or how they are truly unexpected. That, though we are indeed writing the story, stuff just comes out of the blue.

    Trips were great and exhausting. I'm thinking a beach trip next time!

  3. This is an awesome post Nicole! Shakespeare said Expection is the root of all Heartache and I believe this is true. I've been trying to just let go and let things happen lately, (especially with my latest WIP) and avoid expectation because I agree, it's the unexpected that drives and motivates us. Thanks for the great read x

    1. Thanks! It is the letting go I have a difficult time with. I plan to death. But I think on the next WIP, I'll try not to. But how?? (And if I ask how, is that planning on how not to plan?).