“Wait WHAT? NO WAY!”
This is an example of an expression given by a reader who just experienced a plot twist. A sudden change in a story that completely skews the reader’s view on the plot and the characters.
What steps need to be taken to generate a plot twist? How do you use this literary technique efficiently without just causing more confusion?
Come find out!
Some of the most memorable novels and movies for me would have to be the ones that dished out some surprising plot twists. That sudden burst of realization when there were so many clues hinting at it before and it never even crossed your mind. They changed my perceptive on the story’s message, why certain characters behaved the way they did, and even my outlook on real life as a whole.
In the below video by the YouTuber Just Write, he talks about why plot twists shock us and the importance of them. It contains spoilers for Star Wars, Planet of the Apes, Old Boy, Fight Club, Usual Suspects, and The Sixth Sense. Enjoy and continue reading this blog post once you have finished.
The most memorable plot twists tend to follow the theme of angorisis. This is “a change from ignorance to knowledge, producing love or hate between the persons destined by the poet for good or bad fortune” – Aristotle. This has to do with personal and emotional revelations with thorough plot planning. Characters suddenly realizing the change in the nature of themselves or others. These moments stick with us because it causes a huge disturbance in our emotions. The psychological effect it has on the readers/audience makes a larger impact on our own consciousness and how we view ourselves within the character, burning it further into our memories.
Now one thing that the video fails to expand upon is how to make the great reveal believable by weaving hints throughout the story. This is something that I find the most interesting since all of the clues about the ending are right in front of the reader, yet they don’t realize its meaning until they go back and read the material once more. By doing this, the reread value of the novel goes up, allowing people to go back to enjoy it time and time again. It also gains their respect and admiration for how well the author writes, the creativity and organization shining through the page. It shows that the story was thought out beforehand and not just created along the way, making the story prone to plot holes and later convenient fixes, making the story unbelievable. That is why my current series that I’m writing has been all planned out form beginning to end. I incorporate clues in the very first book that hint at the mechanics of the final event at the end of book 5. The satisfaction of coming full circle allow readers to continue along that circle, back to the first book to reread the series for experiencing the same material in a new way.
*Side note: Even though the examples in the video are all films, I believe that it still benefits novel writers when it comes to organizing one’s story. Films have the daunting task of fitting a whole story into just two hours or so of time so they have to be well organized with when certain events and elements occur. I always think of the novels I’m writing as films themselves, by making sure that all of the important points are covered without going on to useless tangents. Trying to make your novels efficient and void of useless info since it keeps the readers engaged and constantly analyzing each scenario, looking for clues pertaining to the plot.
Questions for fellow Navigators:
What are some good examples of effective plot twists that are memorable for you?
Were there any stories that stuck with you because of how ineffective their plot twist was?
How will this impact your writings in the future?
Do you have any preexisting works that could have benefited from this knowledge?