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My favorite American short story writer is O. Henry (William Sydney Porter). His prose may not be as elegant as the other writers, but the plots of his stories always captivate me. O. Henry is the master of surprise endings.
Surprise ending always bowl me over (what else?). I not only love them, I relish them.
I remember watching M. Night Syamalan’s The Sixth Sense. After it took me for a ride during the entire movie and then dropped the surprise on my solar plexus, I watched the movie several more times, wanting to enjoy the same surprise ending over and over again.
Our infatuation with twists and surprises could be the one compelling reason that we gravitate toward magic. Look how many magicians drool at magic tricks that feature a kicker at the end.
I have no problem with surprises or kickers in magic, provided they help strengthen the trick without muddling its plot. As a short story writer, I prefer a straightforward plot, one that begins at the beginning and progresses to the end, without meandering through complications or double backing on its course. In that way, when the surprise comes, it jolts the heck of me. But the jolt is sweet and fun.
A logical kicker is, I think, an oxymoron. Forgive me for saying so. My limited vocabulary has no other term for it. A kicker for me must be unexpected (of course!), but at the same time it must be logical when analyzed after the performance.
What I’m trying to say (if I could figure myself out) is that putting a kicker at the end of the trick just to have a kicker does not always amount to a surprise. Sometimes it only becomes an appendage that weighs the trick down instead of lifting it up to high heavens.
Also, I prefer only one kicker per trick . A surfeit of kickers in one routine diminishes the sweetness of the surprise.
Am I being profound today?
I think so. I’m so profound I myself don’t understand me.
Speaking of multiple kickers, I have this brilliant idea. I will write about it as soon as I finish practicing my new illusion—The Vanishing Lady Cut in Half and Burned Alive then Floated 360 Degrees and Reappears Inside a Dove Pan.