Surely… Not

I’ve noticed a rule. Whenever a character thinks “Surely [X],” the opposite of [X] is absolutely guaranteed to happen.

Let me show you what I mean:

Surely an orphan kid could never beat the reigning champion.

Surely this must all be a nightmare, and I’ll wake up any second.

That look must mean something else—surely he couldn’t like little old me.

Her own house must surely be safe from creepy axe murderers.

You get the idea. That orphan kid is getting a trophy, it’s not a dream, he likes you, and OMG get out of the house it’s full of creepy axe murderers.

The moment you read that surely, you know: this character is wrong, or lying to themselves.The exact opposite is true. You’re sure of it.

But surely there must be some exceptions!

…I just can’t think of any. So now I have to add that word to my RUINED FOREVER list, and refrain from ever using it again.


Published by Melissa Caruso

Fantasy author of the Swords & Fire trilogy: THE TETHERED MAGE (Orbit, 2017), THE DEFIANT HEIR (Orbit, 2018), and THE UNBOUND EMPIRE (Orbit, 2019), as well as the Rooks and Ruin trilogy, beginning with THE OBSIDIAN TOWER (Orbit, 2020). Melissa's debut, THE TETHERED MAGE, was shortlisted for the Gemmell Morningstar Award in 2017. Melissa loves tea, adventure, and the great outdoors, and has been known to swordfight in ballgowns. She lives in Massachusetts with her husband, two superlative daughters, and assorted pets. Represented by Naomi Davis of BookEnds.

One thought on “Surely… Not

  1. I love this post! It’s funny because I never really noticed how annoying “surely” is before. Now that you’ve brought it up and highlighted its flaw as a writing device I just know that from now on its going to bother me whenever I see this come up again in a book. 😉 I’ll still laugh though because of your last line here, “But surely there must be some exceptions!…Surely.” I love your sense of humor, thanks for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

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