Side note: Why do male writers equate true love with death? Just saying....
I think M.Night Shymalan (The Sixth Sense) is a writing genius, but I think he's even more genius to dare to go down a different path with The Last Airbender. Shymalan built a career on the unexpected but the trouble with that is that his fans started looking for the twist before even sampling the popcorn.
Michael Crichton never wrote the same book twice (except Lost World, the not-so-great sequel to Jurassic Park) yet most of his work was enthralling to the last page. Precisely because you didn't know what was coming on that next page until you turned it.
I love the Stephanie Plum series but at this point, isn't she a tad too predictable? You know her car's going to blow up, Lula's going to be outrageous, and Stephanie's going to be torn between Morelli and Ranger. I think it's time she grew up a little, maybe even marry Morelli and deal with marriage while still being a bounty hunter. I'm not asking for drastic changes, just some growth of character.
While I understand the comfort food of your favorite authors, I want to be like Crichton. I want each book to be separate but uniquely mine. I say that now, but in my head I have like four Bix books simmering--although I have to finish and sell the first one---so you all will have to keep me honest. Even if I writer four Bix books, I promise to show growth of character and surprise you.
Strive toward the unexpected. Best unexpected moment I've ever read: Heartstone by Philip Margolin. I never, ever saw the twist coming. Special mention to Allan Folsom for The Day After Tomorrow--not to be confused with the lame movie of the same name but not same plot.
Tell me yours, I'm always up for a great twist.