A killer plot twist can really make your story something special, and cause your readers to re-evaluate everything that’s gone before it. Writing the perfect plot twist requires time, planning – and it may take many attempts until you finally master it. Guest blogger Pauline Ferris explains how to do it with style.
Dreaming Up Your Plot Twist
What exactly is a plot twist? One definition is that it “introduces a radical change in the direction or expected outcome of the plot in a work of fiction.”
• It can happen anywhere in the story
• There can be multiple plot twists in one story
• It needs to be shocking or surprising
• It must add value to the story
So how are you going to invent your plot twist? Try thinking like one of your readers:
• What are they expecting?
• What are they assuming?
• What do they know so far?
• What don’t they know?
Once you analyze the answers to these questions, you may already have a couple of plot twist ideas.
You need more than the obvious, presumed and expected. Whatever came to your mind first is probably going to be the same for your readers. Work around it and come up with something better.
It’s important that you plot twist makes sense for the entire story. You can’t just drop it like a bomb and hope it will fit. Your readers will be disappointed if you do it this way. Instead, you need to focus on foreshadowing. Foreshadowing is all about making your plot twist believable and satisfying. Plant subtle clues throughout the story, then when you reveal the plot twist, readers look back and realise that the hints were there all along.
If you master the art of balanced foreshadowing, you’ve hit the jackpot. Keep in mind:
• make memorable clues
• make them seamless
• conceal that they’re important
• leave them throughout the whole story
• make them all come together in the plot twist
Your readers think they can outsmart you? They’re wrong.
You cannot let your readers see through your storyline and beat you to the plot twist. One of the ways to ensure they have no idea what’s about to happen is to have them believe something completely opposite.
In other words, you’ll need to make smart choices in giving relevant information in a way which makes your reader believe something completely different than your actual intentions.
This will secure their surprise and shock once the real plot twist unveils.
Time for Your Plot Twist
You’ve planted your clues, you’ve led the readers in various directions and now it’s time for your revelation. A good plot twist:
• reveals a shocking fact
• reveals a shocking event
• ends the story unexpectedly
• does all of these together
Your readers have to be blown away by what they’ve read so the shocking part is the major ingredient. Make sure that:
• your characters are a part of it
• you show your plot twist instead of saying it
• you reveal it subtly and simply instead of explicitly
A good plot twist requires you to outsmart your readers and give them something they did not see coming. You need to invest time in planning, writing, rewriting and deciding on the best solution.
Hopefully, we’ve helped you organize your writing process and come up with a plot twist which leaves nobody indifferent. Make sure to choose the best strategies and get into your readers’ heads. That’s the ultimate recipe for a killer plot twist.
Pauline Ferris speaks Portuguese, English, Spanish and Italian and currently she works as a translator at translation service TheWordPoint . She travelled the world to immerse herself in the new cultures and learn languages. Today she is proud to be a voting member of the American Translators Association and an active participant of the Leadership Council of its Portuguese Language Division.