Wow, I did not see that coming! A good plot twist will leave your readers surprised, intrigued, and eagerly anticipating where the story will go next. But writing unforgettable plot twists isn’t easy. You need to be able to misdirect your audience in a way that feels natural to the storyline. We know how a well-written plot twist can boost a book’s or short story’s odds of success. Here’s how to write plot twists that your readers will enjoy.
9 Tips To Help You Write Clever, Effective Plot Twists
Use plot twists sparingly. A good twist is always a thrilling addition to any story, but having too much of a good thing can make it difficult to follow the action. If the butler is really the murderer is really the doctor — is really triplets! — your reader will become exhausted trying to keep track of all the curves and turns. You don’t want to confuse your readers and have them lose interest. Only use plot twists when they can pack the biggest punch.
Tie plot twists to character development. Making your twist pivotal for a character will give it the most impact. Start by developing your characters throughout the story. Lay your characterization down as a good foundation, then tie in your plot twist to throw things off in a compelling way. You might choose to kill off an important character and have the survivors deal with the blindsiding aftereffects. Or, you might elevate a minor character and reveal that this person plays a bigger role behind the scenes.
Put yourself in your readers’ shoes. When you’re writing a plot twist, keep in mind how you would receive it as a reader. Did your big reveal come out of the blue, or was it a culmination of little clues that finally make sense? The function of a plot twist is to move the story forward and keep your readers turning the page — not to simply insert the most shock value.
Avoid cliché twists. Thinking of having your hero’s mentor die just before the climax? Or is the villain a trusted ally who’s really a double agent? We’ve read these clichéd plot twists a billion times before. If you’re going to use a well-worn plot twist, put your own unique spin on it. Maybe the mentor dies while trying to kill the hero! Or perhaps that double-crossing ally isn’t just on the team…