Fun networking lesson with TCP (Transmission Control Protocol): To establish a connection, the client sends a SYN (synchronization) packet. In response, the server sends a SYN-ACK (synchronization-acknowledged) packet back. The client then replies with ACK, completing the three-way handshake.
Similar to the connection between the client and server, an implied agreement exists between an author and a reader. The author is promising to send satisfying data. The reader agrees to accept the data. But when the author doesn’t send what the reader is expecting, the connection is lost.
Try not to introduce a scenario that never plays out, such as:
May had made a killing at the estate sale. Her purse contained thousands of dollars, enough to finally pay off her debts. She pulled into the bank’s parking lot. Two men in a dark SUV sat watching the bank’s entrance. It was almost as though they were waiting for her. May got out of her car, clutching her purse. Inside the lobby, there were no other customers. No security guard. Only May and a young teller. As May walked across the lobby, one of the men followed her inside. With shaking hands, May handed over her bulging deposit envelope. Then the teller gave her a deposit slip. The man walked up and cashed his pay check. They both left the bank. May continued on with her daily errands.
The author is sending “bank robbery.” The reader is agreeing to read more about “bank robbery.” Instead they get “daily errands” in return. The anticipation is never fulfilled, and the reader is left frustrated.
And yes, subverting expectations can be fun, but only if the result is of equal value. If you went to a restaurant and ordered filet and received lobster, you would be surprised, yet not necessarily disappointed. But if you were given a hamburger, you would likely ask for a manager.
A reader should feel satisfied after the ending. If not, you’ll be left with the worst outcome.