Reflection: Twists in the Plot

I always like to write stories with major twists in the plot; usually something unexpected happening, or where something is revealed later on to be different than what it initially appeared to be.  Naturally, plot twists help make a story exciting, by making the plot far less predictable.  I’ve always enjoyed making a story appear like things are happening one way, when in actuality, something different is going on.

I do love twists, especially twist endings.  At this point, I’d reflect on some of my favorites that I wrote, but in case you haven’t actually read my stories, I won’t, so as to avoid spoiling you.  Of course, if you haven’t read my short stories, what are you waiting for, they’re right here!

Regardless, writing a good plot twist is very difficult.  It has to be unexpected enough to surprise the readers, and not be too predictable.  However, it can’t come completely out of thin air, or the reader will be confused, or think the author doesn’t know what he’s doing.

When a reader reads a story with a good plot twist, he’ll be surprised, but at the same time, it will seem logical, natural, like he should have anticipated it, or like certain things suddenly make perfect sense.  In some cases, it may seem to come out of nowhere at first, but if the reader rereads the story after knowing the twist, it becomes clear that the author was planning this from the start.  This happened to me a lot with the Harry Potter books.  I reread them multiple times, and the more I read them, the more clear it was that J.K. Rowling planned everything from the start.

That is the best kind of plot twist.  Plus, it encourages readers to reread your story, which means a single story can keep them entertained longer.

Writing a good plot twist is quite difficult.  First, it requires planning.  I make it a point to decide on all the plot twists I want to include in a story from the very beginning.  If I keep them in my head, I can add subtle foreshadowing to the big twist as I write.

I don’t put too much effort into adding this foreshadowing, though.  If I do, it may become less subtle, and thus, make it more obvious to the reader that I’m foreshadowing something, and possibly make the twist less of a surprise.  And I certainly don’t go back later and try to add more foreshadowing – that just makes it all seem forced, and too obvious.  In general, if I just keep it in my head as I’m writing, I do enough foreshadowing without over-thinking it.  Even just careful word choice in a sentence can be foreshadowing.

Yes, a plot twist is one thing that is dependent on planning.  I know better than to allow spontaneity to decide on a plot twist.  That makes it seem like the story was made up as I went along.

There are some types of plot twists that should be avoided.  For example, revealing that the story was all just a dream is a cliché ending, and seems like a cop-out; to readers, it looks like an excuse by a lazy writer to avoid finding a real ending to the plot.  Plus, if you think about it, any story could be all just a dream, so it is virtually impossible to foreshadow.  Advice to all writers out there: unless you’re writing to parody it, or know what you’re doing, avoid this so-called twist at all costs!

Now, at this point, I would normally reveal the big twist ending, but this is not a fictional story, so I’ve no big twist to reveal.  Therefore, I’m just going to end this reflection right here, and ask you to be back Friday for my next story to be posted.  It’s time for me to be on my way.

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