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Posts Tagged ‘Pigskins and Plot Twists’

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How football and writing

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Written by the C.(Catherine) of C.D. Hersh

My writing partner (The D in C.D. Hersh & my husband) and I were talking about the Super Bowl over dinner and he commented to me that the game of football was a lot like writing a book.

“How so?” I asked.

“Football is a series of scripted plays set within the rules of the game,” he said, “with the object being to win. Writers have a scripted set of plays to work within too—the basic structure of a plot—with the goal being a satisfying ending. Certain plays are designed to fool the defense. The team that does this the best, with twists in the plays the opposition doesn’t expect, ends up with the big score and wins the game. The writers who come up with the best plot twists, the ones that make you go ‘whoa, I didn’t see that coming’ are the writers who often succeed in the business. The ones who score big and win the game.”

I admit I hadn’t thought much about comparing football to writing, but after thinking about what he’d said, I can see the connection. For example, last night we watched the romantic comedy When in Rome that had plot twists that made us both say, “Didn’t see that coming.” And believe me, as writers we are always dissecting the movies we watch. See if you can figure out the plot twists in this fun movie.

When in Rome

While in Rome, Italy, at her sister’s wedding, Beth, who doesn’t believe in love, meets the best man Nick and discovers she’s attracted to him. During the reception the priest comes by and asks Nick if he’ll come play some more poker with him, explaining to a shocked Beth that he’s new to the priesthood and is still working on getting a handle on some temptations. Nick declines, saying the padre cleaned him out already and whisks Beth off to dance.

Later, giving into her attraction, Beth follows Nick outside with a bottle of champagne and sees him kiss another woman. Disillusioned, and drunk, Beth picks up four coins and a poker chip from a lover’s wishing fountain in the town square. Legend says those who throw their coins in the fountain will have their wishes come true. Love has never worked for Beth, and she decides to save the wishers from ill fated love by removing their coins.

When she returns home to the States, the men who threw the coins in the fountain begin appearing, professing their love. One of the guys is Nick, the best man at her sister’s wedding. As her relationship with Nick grows, Beth discovers the lovesick men stalking her have fallen under a spell cast by the fountain when she removed their coins. To remove the spell she must return the coins to each of the men.

While at Nick’s apartment one night she sees a poker chip on the table that is identical to the one she removed from the fountain. She breaks up with him, believing he is under the spell too. Beth returns the coins to the men and, as she does, they snap out of the spell, everyone that is but Nick, who professes his forever love for her.

At this point, any romance reader knows that Nick isn’t under the spell. It’s too contrary to the rules of romance. True love always wins out. But the writer hasn’t shown us who the poker chip belongs too. All along we are lead to believe the chip belongs to Nick. We’ve seen a poker game at his home using the same chips. He’s acted with the same lovesick impulses the other four men displayed. There’s a plot twist in the wings, but we haven’t quite figured it out yet.

A year later Beth and Nick are back in Rome, preparing for their wedding when one of the lovesick men, a magician who played sleight of hand with Nick’s poker chip, comes to her and says he gave her the wrong chip back. Beth now believes Nick is still under the fountain’s spell.

As the wedding scene plays out, it’s obvious the priest is having trouble with the wedding sermon. He draws out the invitation to object to the marriage. He gives the bride inappropriate compliments. He changes the vows to “will you have this woman as your awful wedded wife?” He’s clearly under duress performing this wedding. When he asks Beth, “Will you have this man as your awful wedded husband?” she presses the poker chip into Nick’s hand and runs out of the church. Nick follows and she confesses to him that he’s under the spell of the fountain because she removed his poker chip from the water. He doesn’t really love her.

“This isn’t my chip,” Nick say and throws it back in the fountain.

Have you figured out yet who the chip belongs to?
A throwaway line in the first half hour of the movie set this plot twist up. A line that meant nothing at the time. A line that makes you go, “Oh, yeah, now I see it.” A plot twist that makes this movie fun, memorable, and a winner.
The owner of the poker chip is the priest.

In the background, behind Beth and Nick kissing in front of the fountain, you see the priest whirling around on the square shouting, “I’m free from temptation!”

The second twist? The owner of the chip didn’t wish for love, but to be free of it.

Just like the defensive back is fooled by a play action pass, we have to admit—we didn’t see that one coming.

Do you have some memorable plot twists in stories that you consider winners? We’d love to hear them.

Visit our Amazon Author Page to check out our books to see if we have delivered the “didn’t see that coming” moment or go to our web links in the menu above to find our books.

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