1. MsMaffia
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    MsMaffia Member

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    How many plot twists are too many?

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by MsMaffia, Oct 17, 2013.

    I've been brainstorming for the past couple of days after some time off, and I have thought of quite a few plot twists. They're mostly character driven twists, but there are more than I had originally intended.

    I was just wondering, how much is too much? I don't want it becoming too "soap opera" like, but I want to keep the story interesting.
     
  2. Lewdog
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    Lewdog Come ova here and give me kisses! Supporter Contributor

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    If it could be turned into an M. Night Shyamalan movie there are too many.

    Honestly can you keep track of everything that is going on as you write it? That is the easiest way to judge if people will be able to keep up with the plot twists as they read it.
     
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  3. Dresden260
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    Dresden260 Corrupt Diplomat

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    Depends on what you think the reader has in the case of (can't think of a better word) Imagination. I have seen authors have up to 15-18 different plots and twists in a single book, but it was all interconnected through out 10 books. I agree with Lewdog if you can follow the story yourself then you have the right amount. The moment you lose sight of what is happening go back and rewrite a few areas.
     
  4. GHarrison
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    GHarrison Senior Member

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    If it's a mystery, many twists are definitely a good thing. Just don't lose sight of the main conflict.
     
  5. Michael Timothy
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    Michael Timothy Member

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    So many that you can't keep up with them. So many that any sense of a plot is entirely ruined.

    A good twist is a great surprise. You instantly see a story in a new light because of it, but you haven't changed anything that lead up to it. If you think you're still managing that with all of your twists, have at it and write something great.
     
  6. MsMaffia
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    MsMaffia Member

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    Thanks, this all eases my mind a bit.
    I definitely don't think the twists cover up the story, so I think I may be on the right track. I'm still in the planning stages, so I can only go by what I have in my head and the bits written down. But I'm almost sure I can make it all work.
     
  7. Malo Beto
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    Malo Beto Member

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    I feel twists stop being twists if it becomes the norm. Take M. Night Shyamalan for instance. You can expect a twist in every one of his movies so its not really a twist anymore. You know what would really be a twist? If there was no twist. Everyone would be like "Wait there was no twist? In a Shyamalan movie? What a twist!"

    But anyway I feel since you are concerned about having too many twists you probably will be fine.
     
  8. DeathandGrim
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    DeathandGrim Contributing Member

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    Too much is when the reader is skeptical of every major event. It can be eye rolling sometimes
     
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  9. plothog
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    plothog Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    It depends on the sort of twist.

    If you're talking about unexpected events happening which change the course of the story, a secondary character turning up dead for example, then I think you can get away with quite a few twists.

    If the twist involves making the reader believe something, which turns out not to be true, like a dead person suddenly turning out not to be dead, then you can get away with far less. (Even if wasn't a slightly overused plot twist) You may risk the reader not believing or even caring about what will happen if you try to deceive them to much.
     
    Last edited: Oct 17, 2013
  10. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    how many = 'too many'?

    one more than your story really needs...
     
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  11. peachalulu
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    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

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    Well, it's sort of like those killers that pop up in horror movies - one jolt is fine the next few and the viewers
    yelling oh just die already. Once you've drawn more attention to the twists than the story it's too much.

    I'm also with Plothog on this though, it kinda depends on the twist. You take
    Psycho which seems like it has lots of twists but it's really only the plot developing.
     
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  12. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    Yeah. It's kind of like soap operas, when every time a baby is born you KNOW the paternity will be questioned, or every time a couple finally gets together you KNOW something will split them up (sooner rather than later) or every time there is a big secret you KNOW it's going to all come out in the wash. While these things may work the first time they happen, when they keep happening they put the viewer off. Same with readers.

    I'm thinking specifically of George RR Martin's epoch Song of Ice and Fire where he's killed off so many main characters that I've now completely lost interest in the saga. The first one (Eddard Stark) was a stunner, but after that they started to become more and more pointless, and I stopped investing my interest in any characters, because I became pretty damn sure they wouldn't last the course.
     
  13. plothog
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    plothog Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    I think the third time a specific twists happens, it's not really worthy of even being called a twist any more. It's an established norm for how things work in your world. Sometimes even the second instance of a certain twist might be pushing it.
     
  14. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    i just watched an old flick last night on cable that had so many twists and u-turns i lost count!

    it's called 'wild things' and had a great cast and a pretty standard plot [respected teacher falsely accused of raping a student]... standard till the first 180, anyway!

    believe it or not, they not only kept the turnabouts coming right up to the closing scene, but then added more, during the closing credits!

    would've won the oscar for number of plot twists hands down, if that was a category...
     
  15. Renee J
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    Renee J Contributing Member

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    I don't like twists that feel artificial. For example, in some series, fans will correctly guess a mystery and the writer will change it to something else just to surprise people. That always ends up with inconsistencies and is unsatisfying. The same thing happens when there are too many twists. It starts to feel like it's only a twist to fool people and not to tell a good story.
     
  16. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Seven and a third.
     
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  17. DeathandGrim
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    DeathandGrim Contributing Member

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    One important thing to remember is that Twists aren't the only thing that should keep your reader invested.

    Use them to spice up the plot and take it in a new direction but use it so much that it becomes a crutch to keep the story interesting.
     
  18. TLK
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    TLK Active Member

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    I don't think there is a limit to the number of twists you can or should put in a story, you've just got to make sure all the twists are relevant. If you're adding in plot twists purely for the hell of it, or as a last-ditch attempt to make the story more exciting, and the twists don't really have any relevance or don't add anything to the story, then you've added one too many. This could come on your second twist, or on your twenty second. It all depends on the story and the way you write it. As long as the twists add to the story and you can keep up with them all, you can have as many as you like.
     
  19. Dazen
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    Dazen Active Member

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    As long as they are subtle, and make sense, I think as many as you like is fine, but you need to be able to follow it easily; if not, then you're kind of screwed unless you take some out :) Also, they needed to spark something in the reader, like worry, excitement, fear, shock, awe, etc. If they don't do any of these things, then I suggest you revise the Plot Twists individually.
     
  20. Indivisible
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    Indivisible Member

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    That's a tough question. I guess when it starts to feel really predictable to the point where the reader expects from the author rather than the story; as if it were used as a gimmick instead of as a narrative device. I feel that it really depends on how it's used and whether or not the story calls for it. I agree with the other posters who said it should be used sparingly. I see it as much like a high; the more you get the high, the less effective it becomes... Unless you're constantly escalating the visceral effect that the proceeding twist has on the reader.
     
  21. Smitty91
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    Smitty91 Member

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    Plot twists are a great way to keep your readers interested. You could implement these at the end of chapters to keep your readers interested in the story. However, this a tough question. On the one hand, you want to keep your readers interested in your story. On the other hand, you don't want your story to come off as sounding like a soap opera. I would suggest listing all of the plot twists that you've come up and reject any that may come off as sounding too much like a soap opera, or reject ones that don't really provide any character development or don't advance the story in any way.
     
  22. Albirich
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    Albirich Active Member

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    That you must decide for yourself. I think you can have as many as you want to, but do them smartly, if not don't do them at all.
     
  23. Aurin
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    Aurin Member

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    I don't think there's such a thing as too many. I think you need to consider if a) you and your readers can keep track of them, b) if they would realistically happen in the story and c) if it stands out to the rest of the plot like a sore thumb.

    For example, I've come to really hate Jodi Picolut's novels because they all end in a plot twist that usually brings down the whole novel (with a couple of exceptions to the rule). And while I'm writing chick lit, I really can't stand in other chick lit when the man and woman break it off somehow then magically get back together through ways that really aren't believable; in this case I've made a conscious decision not to have this sort of plot twist. So I don't think it's how many, I think it's how you use them.
     

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