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Back to Bach

The 1884 two manual, 14-rank Hook and Hastings, Trinity Church, Shelburne Falls, MA.

Once again, a look at what J. S. Bach, and particularly the Fantasia and Fugue in A minor, has to say about writing.  If you’ll remember, last time [1] we looked at suspense.  This time, we’re looking at surprise.

After I made this video, I discovered that playing a nine-minute piece at a professional level required a bit more practice than a full-time editor has time for.  So here is Ton Koopman, one of the foremost performers of Bach’s organ music, playing the piece.  The organ he’s using, by the way, is one of the great surviving historic organs — the instrument in the Martinikerk in Groningen, the Netherlands.  It was modernized by the builder Arp Schnitger, probably in the 1690’s, but some of the pipework dates back to 1450.

Again, how do your favorite writers manage surprise?  I could actually have done another five minutes on how Agatha Christie does it by confounding expectations of the genre.  Feel free to elaborate in the comments.

About Dave King [2]

Dave King is the co-author of Self-Editing for Fiction Writers, a best-seller among writing books. An independent editor since 1987, he is also a former contributing editor at Writer's Digest. Many of his magazine pieces on the art of writing have been anthologized in The Complete Handbook of Novel Writing and in The Writer's Digest Writing Clinic. You can check out several of his articles and get other writing tips on his website [3].