If your thinking of writing a novel, or any length story I would suggest a dip in the research waters on the actual art of storytelling. Myself I'm doing it backwards, my story is complete and I'm going back now and making sure I've including all the important stuff, with the hope of not having to rewrite to much of it. We'll see, so far I'm doing okay. At any rate, one particular lecture I have recently watched was called Creative Writing Story Structure, broken into 12 parts posted on youtube by architectus777.
In the lecture he describes the basic elements of crafting a good story. I had listened to the first three parts before drifting off to never never land. During those three episodes he covered such things as plot, opponents, themes, and goals and in doing so a nice little story of his own was beginning to form. In it the main character seeks out his sister's rapist and wants revenge, along the way he has a revelation and decided killing the bad guy wouldn't do any good.
The lecturer also through the course teaches that a spectacular ending can really make or break a story and gave a good example of how Sixth Sense achieved its success from having such surprise ending. The Sixth Sense had a so-so beginning and end but it was really the ending that drove it into another realm. On a side note, I was thinking of another good one that has a great ending, The Scent of a Woman. When Pacino delivers that address at the end to the school disciplinary committee I was in awe (goosebumps), and have remembered the story to this day.
So off I go to bed with bad guys and surprise endings on my mind. The dream I had, which unfortunately I remembered when I woke, began all nice and sweet. The main character was a guy who had moved into an uppity condo/apartment complex. Shortly after his arrival he discovers an attraction for the neighbor lady. They go on a date and when he attempts a second is snubbed, she's just not interested. We then seen him walking the streets passing by schools, houses and ball parks. He is alone and depressed with ahead hung low and eyes darkened under the brim of a hat. A short time later we get a news flash that a man was caught by the police a suspect in a homicide and rape spree he had committed. Scene then pans back to his apartment and on his bed face down is the neighbor lady obviously the victim of a viscous murder her back soiled with blood stains. The news flash then switches back to the police car, and inside is the feller again. he's the bad guy, eek!
Now I realize it doesn't feel like a surprise ending the way I described it above, but trust me it felt that way in the dream state I was in. The guy had seemed so unassuming throughout the entire dream, no malicious nature about him at all, then wham he's the bad guy. Go figure? Needless to say I woke up in an eerie state of mind, but at least I had something to chat about today.