It’s seems we’ve come full circle and are back where the blog began: writing. Specifically, we have talked about writing method and technique. I have introduced you to some of my own personal writing forms and systems as well as informing you about modern and classic writing logistics. This post may contain some of my personal technique, but I just want to talk about plot twists. What are they? How do they work? Are they important to a story?
If you’ve read much literature, especially a mystery novel, you can apreciate a good plot twist. A plot twist is what happens when the writer takes the story down a completely unexpected path, and thereby twists or alters the plot. Some people call them plot curves, but a plot twist is one of the best things you can do with a fiction book.
The way a plot twist works: in order to explain that you need to know how a plot twist is made.
- A plot twist must be established in the skeleton of the story.
- A plot twist must be built into the outline and match the plot.
- A plot twist must be distinctive enough from the plot so as not to be considered part of it.
The first two rules are important to establishing a plot twist or building one into your story. If a plot twist is not planned, it is often poorly executed and has a negative effect on your story. So, what is the importance of establishing the plot in the skeleton? Well, the skeleton is the basic framework of your story, it’s like a detailed outline that you write the story on. Everything major that occurs in your story, (the bones of your story), must be established into your skeleton, (to make sure all the bones fit together and support the story). If a plot twist isn’t built into the skeleton but is add onto the story mid-way through, it compromises the structural integrity of the entire story; side effects may include: skeletal collapse, readers loss of interest, and/or the complete failure of all content before and after. If the plot twist doesn’t fit the story, the story is ruined.
The second thing on the list was that a plot twist much match the plot. Not only does it need to be built into the skeleton, but it needs to fit in with the natural plot. A plot twist that doesn’t match the natural plot feels forced and immediately looses the reader’s interest rather than increasing it. Ways to ensure that your plot twist succeeds:
- Don’t throw the plot twist in at the last minute! (Please)
- Make sure the plot twist is a good story by itself. (If the plot twist would make a good story by itself, it’s a good twist)
- Ensure that there are no inconsistencies between the plot twist and the natural plot.
- Time the plot twist so that it has the maximum surprise factor.
- Remember: if you have to force it in, throw it out.
Plot twists are wonderful to see played out, but they can so easily detract and outright fail. I’ve read countless books with poorly written plot twists; it’s a mistake you cannot make in writing. Too many plot twists will destroy the natural plot, and a single poorly written plot twist can destroy an entire book.
Why is this so important? Because the way we write our stories matters. Don’t ever think that what you have to say isn’t worth hearing. I’m here to help you express your thoughts and to inspire you to share you message, your vision with the world. That’s why I take so much time explaining the little things which I think are so vitally important.
What’s your story like? Can you see the ending coming, or will there be a plot twist. Jesus was my plot twist. I was on a path that led to a certain end, my story was already being written before my eyes, but Jesus came in, a plot twist added into the middle of my story. Guess what? He destroyed my story, but He created a new one in its place and gave me the most perfect and wonderful plot twist for the ending.
As always, thanks for reading.
—the anonymous novelist