You never saw that coming. The twist in the tale.

Welcome back to another blog hop, with #OpenBook. Here’s this week’s prompt.

Plot twists…do you have a favorite you can talk about (yours or someone else’s?)

Plot twists are an essential part of storytelling and the backbone of psychological thrillers, crime capers and all types of romance. Basically, they are the place where the direction of the story changes in a significant way, because of a revelation or unexpected event.

I like a good plot twist, preferably one that you never saw coming. Whether it’s Miss Marple announcing who the murderer is (and it’s always someone you never suspected, although they were in plain sight), or that moment when the character that you were sure was a good guy is revealed as the master criminal. Not forgetting the answer to a puzzle that’s hidden under your nose. And there’s the twist where an obscure fact is used to justify an action in a way that you wouldn’t have imagined.

But the thing l like most about them is that, once the twist has happened, you realise that there were more than enough clues. If only you had been paying attention as you worked your way through the story, you really should have pieced them all together. And I think that’s where part of the enjoyment of a good twist lies, after all, you know there’s a good chance that there will be (at least) one and you’d like to think that you’re clever enough to work it out before it happens.

In a way, it becomes a battle between the author and the reader. And woe betide a reader who gives the twist away in a review or post on social media, spoiling it for everyone else.

So, what makes a good twist? Well, as I said before, it has to be significant, big enough to drastically change the way you think about the story. It should be unexpected yet totally plausible. And, in a lot of cases, obvious once it’s been revealed. Giving the reader the chance to mutter, of course.

How easy is it to write one? Surprisingly so, the trick lies not in visualising it but in the preparation, where you can disguise what’s about to happen in the body of the tale. Leave a few clues, enough to justify it when it happens and to play fair with the more cerebral of the audience, those who take delight in telling you that they knew it all along.

If you’re feeling really ambitious, you can put a couple in the same story, just when the reader is relaxed and used to the first twist, why not hit them with another heart-stopping moment.

As for talking about them? I’ve said it before, I’d hate to give a good one away. When I’m reviewing a book, I’ll just say that there WAS one but I wouldn’t like to spoil the work that went into it.

I’ve also written a few twists in my time but I’d rather not share them, there’s always the possibility that you might be reading one of my books and then you’d lose the fun of trying to anticipate the ending.

Or, if you hadn’t got the book but knew the twist, you might never buy it in the first place.

Unless you wanted to know how I had justified it in the build-up.

Let me know what you think about this week’s subject.

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6 Responses

  1. Steven Smith

    I think you have hit the nail on the head. A great plot twist is all about the set up, leaving a trail of breadcrumbs for readers to follow!

    • Richard Dee

      I want people to wonder why they never realised what was about to happen.

    • Richard Dee

      They are even better when the author didn’t see them coming either.

  2. Amy Miller

    I love how you phrased it as a battle between the author and the reader. It makes it fun. Who will win?

    • Richard Dee

      Sometimes you can outwit the reader, it’s always fun to try.

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