Sometimes I think new writers go to two different extremes.
1. Boring things happen in their stories
2. Unbelievable things happen in their stories
Remember that captain who just recently landed his plane on the Hudson? Writer pal John did a great post about it one day, and the whole thing got me thinking.
Who would have guessed a plane could land on a river? Not me. And yet it happened.
Incredible things occur all the time in life. Strange things. Coincidences. Don't be afraid to let them happen in your book. Make it credible (the captain had tons of experience).
The best books and movies don't get started until something happens to the main character, something the character must then react to, oftentimes in unprecedented ways.
In Twilight, the new girl falls in love with a vampire. In The Thirteenth Tale, a loner is summoned to write the biography of an eccentric bestselling author. In Armageddon, an oil drilling company is asked by the government to stop an astroid. This is how these stories start.
Don't be afraid to explore the full scope of your story and what could happen.
So, do you have any cool things surprising your characters?