Surprise Isn’t Just Good For Fiction – It’s Great For Bios Too

I was reading an article by L.K. Hill about the importance of surprise in fiction-writing. We all know that almost every TV show has to have some amount of surprise in it to keep us interested in watching it the end.

But of course fiction isn’t the same as a bio. The fiction-writer, TV writer, movie writer, can, and must, plan the story. The writer simply makes the story have elements of surprise.

Can a bio have surprise? Of course, when I write your short bio, I can’t invent a story. I have to use the information about your life that you provide. I can’t plan to have surprise…or can I?

No, I can’t. But I do look for those elements in your life story that I think others will be surprised by. Those are often what gives your story believability. And people can relate to your trials and tribulations if the surprises presented difficulties. And if the surprise was a good thing, then readers can connect with you and feel your joy.

For all those reasons, I often ask clients to tell me what surprises they’ve confronted in their life. And what happened in their life that was completely unexpected. To what degree did their plans, perhaps in the beginning of their career, not turn out the way they expected.

Surprise makes for interesting reading, even in a bio.

Irwin Berent is the co-creator of, the business that makes you look great with a professional short bio, delivered fresh and hot to your (virtual) door.
In addition to writing short bios, Irwin is the CEO of ShortBios, Writers Software SuperCenter, and Norfolk History Publishers; author of The Right Words; Getting Your Words’ Worth; Weird Words; The Quotable Conservative; Fundamentalism; Drug Legalization; Norfolk, Virginia: Evolution of A City in Maps; Norfolk, Virginia: A Jewish History; Sourcebook For Jewish Genealogies and Family Histories; Crewmen of the U.S.S. Monitor: A Biographical Directory, etc.; creator of BioBuilder Templates & Questionnaires for Do-It-Yourself Bio Writing and StoryCraft Software; founder of the Plain Writing Association, and webmaster of,,, and tewzyna.

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