What was the last thing you read that made you giraffe neck and exclaim “whhhaaaa??!”? It doesn’t have to be something disturbing or shocking. It could be a twist you didn’t see coming, or a protagonist/antagonist acting so out of character you don’t believe your eyes. Maybe the author hid something from you (without cheating – see unreliable narrator) and the truth sideswiped you right off your feet.
A good ‘whhhaaaa??!’ moment can be one of the most satisfying parts of being a writer. Not because you fooled the reader or took them by surprise (not like that, you filthy buggers), but because they were so invested in your story you could illicit this emotional response. Let’s face it, if your story is pants no one gives a rat’s arse if your protagonist suddenly sprouts wings or declares she was the baddy all along…mwuahaha!
You need to draw the reader in before you can really make them whhhaaaa??!
Reel them in like a fish on a hook, and then gut them like…a fish off a hook?
The best ‘whhhaaaa??!’ moments are the ones the author has spent the entire book building towards. You can’t just throw one in for the shits and giggles of it. There has to be a reason for it and there has to be logic behind it. Throwing a ‘whhhaaaa??!’ isn’t an excuse for sloppy writing, the ‘whhhaaaa??!’ must be established beforehand.
A ‘whhhaaaa??!’ without planning and reason is like that damn cat that jumps out at the MC in bad horror movies – a cheap trick by lazy writers.
Also, the time has come to tell you…I’m really a giraffe in a man suit…WHHHAAAA??!