It was my writing group today and what a great bunch o writers they are! It’s always a most enjoyable afternoon because they are also great people!
Today we were thinking about how most writing needs some sort unexpected ending, a reveal which must be reasonable and believable within the story, but which is concealed until the last moment. This shouldn’t be to trick or fool the reader, no-one likes that, but to mystify and surprise with a perfect conclusion!
I had a little exercise to think outside the box – ten conundrums to puzzle over. Some are quite well-known but even so, they involved discussion and thought:
- Romeo and Juliet – Romeo and Juliet are found dead on the floor in a locked room; it’s empty except for them, a table and a dog. There is water and broken glass on the floor. How did they die?
- How Many Babies? – A woman gave birth to two babies on the same date – the same day, month and year. However, they are not twins. Why not?
- Who is the Surgeon? – There is a terrible accident in which a boy and his father are injured. They are both taken to the hospital and the boy is rushed to surgery. The surgeon enters the room and looking at the boy exclaims “I can’t operate on him, he’s my son!” How can this be?
- The New Driver – A young woman has just passed her driving test. As she leaves the driving centre, a police officer notices her turning into a street for buses only and proceeding down it. The police officer takes no action. Why not?
- All is Black – A mysterious man is dressed all in black, black clothes, black gloves, black hat and a black mask. He stands in the middle of a road surrounded by black windowless buildings. The street lights are broken and there is no moon. A black car without headlights drives straight towards him but doesn’t hit him. Why not?
- The Man in the Pub – A man walks into his local pub and asks the barman for a glass of water. The barman pulls out a gun and points it at the man. The man says ‘Thank you’ and walks out. What has just happened and why?
- The Man who Hanged Himself – There is a large wooden barn which is completely empty except for a small, wet wheelbarrow and a dead man hanging from the middle of the central rafter. The rope around his neck is ten feet long and he is suspended five feet off the ground; beneath him is a pool of water. The nearest wall is out of reach for him and it’s not possible to climb up the walls or along the rafters. The man has hanged himself. How did he do it?
- Death in a Field – A man is lying dead in a newly ploughed field. There are no foot-prints anywhere in the field, no tyre tracks or wheel marks. Next to him there is an unopened package. There is no other person or creature in the field. How did he die?
- The Coal, the Carrot and the Scarf – There are five pieces of coal, a carrot and a scarf lying on a lawn. Nobody put them there, so how did they get on the lawn?
- Push That Car – A man was pushing his car along and stopped outside a hotel; at that very moment he knew he was bankrupt. How?