Thursday, September 23, 2010

Let her throw up

My husband and I have been watching the show Mad Men. We're woefully behind - just now on season two. A couple nights ago, we reached an episode that had the best ever moment in the whole series. And I'd say it's even one of the best moments I've seen on TV.

Here's a quick synopsis of the episode.

The main character, Don Draper, spends half the episode debating buying a Cadillac. At first he decides no, but then he gets a salary bump at work and returns to the dealership. He brings the car home (those were the days, right guys? When you didn't have to run everything by your wife.) and takes his wife, Betty, and two kids out for a picnic. Before they get back in the car, he makes sure everyone goes to the bathroom and that all their hands are clean.

Meanwhile, there's a big party that Don and Betty have been invited to. They get all dressed up and take the Cadillac. While they're there, Betty learns that Don has been cheating on her. And, separately, Don is confronted by the husband of the woman he was cheating with. Here's a picture of Don and Betty as they leave the party:

Happy couple, right?

The next scene is them sitting in the Cadillac absolutely silent. There's maybe 30 or so seconds of silence, and you just know that any second now, Betty's going to say something to Don about what she learned.

She opens her mouth, and then...

She pukes.

The camera cuts to Don making a disgusted/horrified face, and the episode ends.

I burst out laughing because it caught me completely by surprise. Here I was sitting on my couch expecting the same ol' plot line - wife finds out husband is cheating, wife confronts him as soon as they get a moment of privacy. I did not expect her to throw up in her husband's brand new, very expensive car.

I've been thinking about that scene for days.

Would I still be thinking about it if Betty had confronted Don? Maybe. Maybe there would have been some good emotion, some good one-liners that made it memorable. But not as memorable.

This has inspired me to jot a note and hang it on the bulletin board next to my desk: Let her throw up.

What that means to me is, don't go for the obvious scene. I want to push myself to write the surprise, to write the unexpected.

Because you know what readers hate? Predictable.

So let her throw up.


  1. Hahaha.
    So funny.
    I like this idea.
    Thanks, Stephanie.

  2. Wow. Disgusting AND brilliant. Love it! =)

  3. That's awesome. I've always heard that rule (better said than done) , but the way you put it was genius!

  4. It always seemed that, even if they tried not to be, things are predictable. You know, like if there's a sports game or something, when you were younger, you might of expected them to win, because the movie was about them needing to win or something. Then, after that first time, you know not to expect them to win, because that's just not how it goes. Or else there's a tie.

    And so it can be predictable either way. I think, like you said, I need to get creative and think of some alternate ways to make it unpredicable...I think I'll put that on my wall, too.

    Thanks, Steph!:D

  5. Emii, you raise a good point. Some storylines just feel tired and cliche regardless. I hate most things that comes down to the "big game." Like you said, it can feel tired regardless of them winning or losing.

  6. Super good post, Stephanie! and a good reminder to us. Loved it. :)

  7. Haha, that is definitely something I need to work on... something I need and should polish in one of my books.
    Unpredictable is great. though sometimes it can be irritating, for anyone who has read the last book in the Inkheart Trilogy by Cornelia Funke, you know what I mean when I say its irritating when the unpredictable happens... (meaning what happens between Farid and Meggie)
    Its a hard world for writers... =) lol

  8. Lol, Jazmine. I don't know specifically what you're talking about, but unpredictable can definitely just feel annoying. Like when something is completely out of character or feels forced.

  9. Yeah definitely. =)
    That book I mentioned not many people have read it I don't think, but Cornelia is an amazing author with a great eye for descrbing and just making the story pop out of the pages.
    Main reason why I don't think anyone has read it is because its actually originally published in Germany.
    A movie came out last year in January about the first book though. Its titled "Inkheart".
    So yeah... haha.