How To Create The Perfect Plot Twist

By on September 26, 2018
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Writing great plot twists can be incredibly effective, but doing so is not as easy as you might think. Here are some tips to help you!

Get into the reader’s mindset.

One of the most helpful things any writer can do is try to read their story as if they didn’t know it. A successful plot twist relies on the reader being shocked because something unexpected happens, but at the same time, the twist must be plausible. By putting yourself in the reader’s shoes, you can try to see what might be obvious and discard these as potential plot twist ideas. The reader needs not to be able to second-guess the twist; otherwise it will be ineffective. So try to come up with something that will ultimately take them by surprise.

Employ misdirection

Misdirection is a smart device to help make plot twists more powerful, but it must be used with great subtlety otherwise readers will feel cheated. You can drop hints and make suggestions that something is about to happen, or bring their attention to something, or plant red herrings to guide your reader to believe something is coming that isn’t - then instead leave them gobsmacked at the actual turn of events.

Leave clues

A plot twist cannot come from nowhere, but a good one also won’t be guessed by your reader before it is revealed. How do you manage to balance this? By leaving extremely subtle hints throughout your story. These might be seemingly unimportant things that your reader notices at the time but quickly forgets, and it is only when the twist is revealed that they can join the dots and suddenly see that it was right there in front of them all along.

Make sure it’s necessary.

Not all good stories need a plot twist, so don’t put one in just for the sake of it. A good plot twist is essential to make the story work, it’s believable and makes sense. Any plot twist that is too far-fetched will merely leave your reader feeling confused and cheated of the ending they were hoping for. Readers need their emotional investment in your story to pay off. If a plot twist makes them feel deceived they won’t buy into it and you could risk ruining your whole story.

Twist a plot twist within a plot twist!

Detective fiction and crime novels often used the clever device of presenting a plot twist to the reader and then suddenly revealing another, even more, shocking plot twist later on. Just when the reader gets comfortable again and thinks all has been revealed, they are hit with an even more incredible revelation which leaves them reeling but totally hooked to your every word.

Remember not every story has a happy ending.

It’s so easy to finish your story with a ‘happily ever after vibe,’ but sometimes it’s far more effective to create an unhappy ending. If readers love your characters they’ll probably want everything to work out for them, and if your plot twist is that it doesn’t, this can be an effective way of engaging with the reader, even if they shed a tear at the end!

Don’t run out of steam.

Your plot twist will probably be revealed towards the end of your book, but don’t invest all your creativity in a mind-blowing plot twist only to them have your story limp off into the night. Make sure you have enough energy left to write a brilliant and satisfying ending too.

If you want to make your reader's jaws drop, use these tips. Doing so will help to create dramatic plot twists and keep your reader hooked on your story until the very last word!

Bethany Cadman -author of 'Doctor Vanilla's Sunflowers'

Bethany Cadman -author of 'Doctor Vanilla's Sunflowers'

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