1. Patrick94
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    Patrick94 Active Member

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    Ending a book on a massive twist

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by Patrick94, Jun 7, 2011.

    I'm talking about in a series, not just a standalone novel. The best example I can think of is Darren Shan's Blood Beast. What's the best way to build up a story to a climax that'll have the reader's begging for the next installment?
     
  2. Declan
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    Declan Senior Member

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    Completly misdirecting the reader is one thing you will definately have to do. I just read a book (wont say which one) where the narrator focuses so much on getting revenge on other characters for something that it turns out the narrator did to themselves. It got me.
     
  3. Leonardo Pisano
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    Leonardo Pisano Active Member

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    From the top of my head there are few options, but I think that a story must be able to stand on its own.

    1. Create a hero that has room for new adventures. This has been done many times (e.g., Agatha Christie's MCs)
    2. Create some open end. I.e., a battle may have been won, but the war continues. Think Sherlock Holmes vs Moriarty.
    3. Periods in time of a family. Each book is a generation.

    HTH
     
  4. WriterDude
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    WriterDude Contributing Member Contributor

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    Personally, I don't care about a twist if the book itself is boring, but if the book is good, Andy McDermott is pretty good at that. Without spoiling too much, he has a villain that shows up in several books and almost nuked Wall Street. One book ended with said villain majorly pissed off, falling off a cliff into a river and was assumed dead. But there's no body, so there's a great chance he/she will show up again later. I can't wait until he/she does. :) It can be in the next book, and it can be in three books later, but I'll be sure to stick around until then even if just to see the villain return. :)
     
  5. darkhaloangel
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    darkhaloangel Active Member

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    Brilliant - as long as it's not: and the events of the past novel were all just a dream (because that really winds some people up)
     
  6. WriterDude
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    WriterDude Contributing Member Contributor

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    Unless you are writing a "Nighmare on Elm Street" story, of course. In which case "it's just a dream" can be a goo thing. :p
     
  7. JimFlagg
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    JimFlagg Contributing Member

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    You use events without revealing the cause. This leaves the reader wandering why. You can use battles that are not finished, leaving the reader wandering how it ended. You can use turn coats that stab some one in the back for no good reason. You can use mortal wounds that leave the MC for dead. You can use thousands of things.

    In the end it is your book and you will need to make a choice. Look back to what you used in your chapters that made the reader want to read the next chapter, just make it more grandiose. If we tell you how to write your book then it would not be your book.
     
  8. thaiqr
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    thaiqr Member

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    As in Shutter Island

    You can use something I like to call "Detailed Generality". As in Shutter Island. You create scenarios in which a truth could be argued, but at the end, reveal the truth, that is easily supported by details throughout the book.
     
  9. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    First, shelve any notions of a sewries until you have sold at least one book to a publisher.

    Publishers almost never contract for a series from an unknown author. Even suggesting you're submission is the beginning of a series sends crimson warning flares be3fore the submissions editor's eyes.

    There is certainly a place in fiction for a reversal (which is writer-speak for a twist, but actually encompasses a broader range of surprises in a story).

    But grand, blockbuster reversals are usually less effective than relatively subtle ones. Even a subtle reversal can make the reader go, "Aha!" Huge, climactic reversals nearly always come across as contrived, forced.
     
  10. JPGriffin
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    JPGriffin Senior Member

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    Cogito's got a point when it comes to the over sized plot twist. Leave that for Film makers, I'd say. Each book should end in a small twist of its own, even if it does get resolved on a small scale, but when it comes to ending an entire series- As in "No more, I'm done with this," then you'll find a LOT of readers will get aggravated (at least I know I would). For that, you'll want to finish the story off larger than previous twists, but not so much that it is, again forced.

    For single installments in a series, you'll want to leave options open for characters, or at least leave their fates up in the air. If a reader is left asking, "What's going to happen?" then they'll be sure to get the next book, and crave it every second they're waiting. The twists don't have to be huge, but so long as you leave the reader with those vital, keep-you-up-at-night questions in their heads, you'll have a lot of success.
     
  11. Gigi_GNR
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    Gigi_GNR Guys, come on. WAFFLE-O. Contributor

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    I absolutely HATE it when novels do that. One of my literary pet peeves!
     
  12. cruciFICTION
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    cruciFICTION Contributing Member Contributor

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    Probably the best example I can think of is the twist between James Cameron's Titanic and Christopher Nolan's Inception. Titanic has a twisted ending *SPOILER* showing Jack sinking into the ocean, but not dying *SPOILER* and Inception has the exact same man waking up on a beach.

    *Flails wildly* ISN'T THAT CRAZY?

    I still need to read the novel. I loved the film.
     
  13. HBAdams
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    HBAdams Member

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    I love you.

    Also, (it's not a book, but...) if you want to see a really fabulous ending twist that enhances the sheer awesomeness of the rest of the story, watch the movie The Book Of Eli. The twist is completely supported by every single scene throughout the movie.
     
  14. goldhawk
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    goldhawk Senior Member

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    Total and complete commitment to the first novel.

    If you hold anything back from your first story, your readers will sense it and be less than enthusiastic about you. Give them everything you got in your first story. And do it for the second. And the next.

    And don't worry about giving your best idea away with your first story. More will come. Just put your heart and soul into your first story and maybe, just maybe, people may like it (but don't hold your breath).
     
  15. WriterDude
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    WriterDude Contributing Member Contributor

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    When I first started writing about fifteen year ago, I wrote a fantasy story with the usual haunted forest, even more haunted castle and a few Lovecraft-references. This was long before fantasy became mainstream with Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings, so the publishers didn't want to publish it. (speaking of that, maybe they do now? Guess I'll have to try again.) :) But anyway, my biggest mistake was to set it up as a series. It had a happy ending with the heroes returning to town, and we got to know one of the heroines was pregnant.

    But we also knew there was a sinister feeling all over town, like something was very, very wrong. During the story, one of the heroines drowned in the swamp, and the final scene was her hand reaching out of the swamp again. (this was long before zombies recent zombie-popularity, so don't expect a regular zombie.) The publisher did like that twist, but they said I was a first-time writer and fantasy wasn't a popular genre anyway, so they didn't dare take the risk of starting a series.

    Well, most said that. One publisher said, and I quote: "I smell fried duck, and that's not because there's a Mongolian restaurant down the street." :D
     

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