Stand-alones: Tips and Advice

How to Write a Plot Twist

Welcome (back) to Writer Central!

Now that the excitement of the July Camp NaNoWriMo has died down a bit, I’ll go back to my regular, old-fashioned blogging.  So today I’m going to address a topic that is commonly spoken of in the writing world – plot twists.

What is a plot twist?

For those of you who don’t know or didn’t figure it out yourself through its reasonably self-explantory name, a plot twist is a twist in a plot that the reader (hopefully) didn’t anticipate.  Plot twists should leave the reader on the edge of their seats, leave them wondering how they didn’t see it coming, leave them with something to savor when the book is done.

Twists can, however, be difficult to orchestrate, so if you struggle with them as much as I do, here are a few different types of plot twists, and how to go about setting them up.

  1. The “random” plot twist. This is the twist that is random and unexpected.  Perhaps your story is boring and predictable.  Well, this twist will give it the boost of excitement it needs.  Perhaps the antagonist is your protagonist’s best friend’s father and they were in cohorts all along.  Perhaps the sweet little cat that Jerry loves is actually a vampire and has been plotting to kill him all along!  These little things will surprise the reader and give them a better opinion on the book.
  2. The “how did I not see that” plot twist.  This sort of twist is usually the main focus of the plot, because it’s pretty much the solution to the book.  There will be clues leading up to it throughout the book, but usually when the reader’s attention is directed elsewhere.  Then, when the twist is revealed, the reader will wonder how in the world they did not predict it.
  3. The “nothing is what it seems” plot twist.  Say you’re writing a mystery or suspense and all the clues point right to one specific culprit, but it turns out the culprit is someone no one would ever suspect!  These twists drive me crazy because I know the trick by now but I fall for it every time.  For example, in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, Harry, Ron, and Hermione suspect Snape for wrongdoing throughout the majority of the book.  Why?  Because he’s arrogant and annoying and all the clues seemed to point to him.  But no one suspects Professor Quirrell mainly because he is a stuttering old man who’s terrified of everything.  This type of twist is super popular, but, strangely enough, hardly ever predictable.  In order to make it work, you have to make the Snape of your story especially dislikeable and the Quirrell of your story especially innocent.
  4. The “where did that come from” plot twist.  So, let’s say your characters have just finished a fatal battle with their enemy, and were victorious.  Perhaps they’re celebrating, or sleeping, but whatever they’re doing, everything’s peaceful and calm and the reader’s nerves are beginning to settle.  Then, out of nowhere, it turns out that there was a betrayal and there’s another army coming to murder them all.  No one anticipates it.

That’s all for today!  When implementing a plot twist in your story, just remember to keep it unexpected and unpredictable.  Twists add such thrill to your story, and make it so much better.

Thanks for reading!  If you like this post, there’s more where it came from.  I also blog weekly, so feel free to follow for more writerly tips.  A big thank you to everyone who’s already following – it means a lot to me.

If you have a question, idea, or suggestion, just comment below or contact me through email or social media, and I’ll get back to you.

See you next time!

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