How To Create A Plot Twist That Will Shock Your Readers

By on January 18, 2017
How To Create A Plot Twist That Will Shock Your Readers - Writer's

When you are approaching the end of a novel, there is nothing better than suddenly everything you thought you knew being turned on its head. You were expecting the protagonist journey to go a certain way, but suddenly they discover something that takes them on an entirely different course. Perhaps you are reading a ‘whodunnit’ novel and are sure that you have cleverly worked out who is behind those grisly murders, but then unbelievably and amazingly a significant revelation changes everything. Then there is another, and another - and so it goes on.

A plot twist is a great way of building up tension and suspense and creating a dramatic climax which leaves your readers reeling when they get to the end. It can make them uncomfortable, devastated, incredulous; it keeps them on the edge of their seat until those very last pages.

But creating a brilliant plot twist is no mean feat. In order for your readers to really get on board, you must cleverly build up to your twist, increasing the tension and drama as you go. It needs to be big enough not to feel like a let down but not so big it makes the rest of your story seem rather pointless.

Let’s look at some of the do’s and don’t’s when it comes to writing a plot twist.

It can’t be obvious

A plot twist has to be something that your readers aren’t expecting. If you make it too obvious, then they’ll feel deflated, particularly if you have correctly built up to the ‘big reveal'. Twists are there to shock readers, to make them feel astonished, to get their eyebrows raised and their mouths forming little ‘O's'. If they saw it coming a mile off then, you have to ask yourself, can it actually be called a twist at all? Describe your story to someone and see if they can guess the twist, if they get it right away, you might well be writing something too cliched, or something that’s been done 100 times before.

It can’t be utterly implausible

While you want your plot twist to be unique and shocking, if it is entirely unlikely it won’t do anything for the credibility of your story. Plot twists have to feel somewhat organic. If they come from absolutely nowhere, your reader is more likely to feel cheated and betrayed than excited and full of suspense.

They have to feel like they could have worked it out themselves

Leaving little hints and clues along the way is always polite. When your plot twist is revealed, readers enjoy thinking back to that particular chapter where one character gave the other a funny look or did something slightly odd - which now makes perfect sense of course! These little subtle hints should be weaved carefully into your story so a reader can go back and think ‘Ah! Of course!’ after the plot twist has been revealed. You want to give them clues, but also keep these clues sufficiently buried so that they don’t just immediately guess the ending right away.

Reward your reader

Remember readers have taken the time to get to the end of your book and have probably now invested in it emotionally. Take the time to make your plot twist great. Don’t be a cop out, don’t tell them ‘it was all just a dream’ or that ‘she lived happily ever after'. Make your plot twist unpredictable, imaginative and always keep the reader's response in mind, that way you’ll make sure that you stay on the right track.

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