Discussion in 'General Writing' started by MilesTro, Sep 15, 2007.
How do you add a good twist in your story, so your reader won't expect it?
Write the story from beginning to end. Then add another ending after the first.
But that leaves you with the problem of having a second ending...which then runs the risk of sounding like nothing more than a second ending. Did you see the last Lord of the Rings movie? No twists, necessarily, but far too many endings. How would one go about avoiding that?
I'm sorry I haven't got a suggestion for you, MilesTro, I might as well have asked the question.
Write the story, then when you've finished look at it. Read it through. If you don't think there is enough of a twist, go to a point towards the end, but before the climax, and throw a spanner in the works. Then take it from there, and see where it leads you, and if you prefer that to the original ending. Repeat as required, until you are satisfied with your story and your ending.
I'd say that if the twist wasn't already part of your story concept when you were devising the plot, it probably doesn't belong in the story. My experience with such endings is that they tend to be the first part of the story I come up with. They usually arise from pondering "what if?" and then a story pretty much grows around the answer.
Trying to pry a twist in afterwards seems likely to end up looking forced; but if someone else's experience is different, I'd love to hear about it.
I don't believe a story must necessarily have a twist to be a good one, though.
Okay, I'll finish my story first, and go through it to add a twist.
I think that perhaps the better question to be asking here is notif you should have a twist, but why you want to have a twist. If it's not already in the story, then do you just want it because you think it will make it better?
Personally, I think it will make it worse. If you've got a fully developed story without the twist, then it's going to look pretty obvious if you just add one on in the end. If you haven't got a fully developed story and you want a twist at the end, I would plan it out before you start writing. Otherwise, it will (in all likelihood) looked patched and sloppy, and thus take away from the quality of the piece.
Hmm. Out of interest, Scavenger, would you describe my stories as having twists?
Because I do exactly what I said--write the story from start to finish, then add another ending.
Err--not always, that is. (If you put a twist in everything, it gets predictable.) I put what I think are twists into Look Away, Darling and Fiddle With Your Lizard.
No, actually. I think in both of those you set the reader up enough beforehand to make the end at least somewhat predictable. I knew it was coming in Fiddle with your Lizard for sure, and in Look Away, Darling, I...wasn't surprised. Maybe I didn't predict that particular ending, but given the nature of the story and how quickly situations could change, it seemed like the next logical step.
Maybe I define twist as something more dramatic, something that completely blindsides the reader...
I don't see why it is necessary to put a twist in a story, especially if it doesn't really need one, and especially if it's already good without one.
To put a twist in the story, you must go beyond being the writer. You have to actually twist something, meaning making something happen [with a certain character] that wouldn't.
I'll use Harlan Coben's The Innocent as an example. You find out that the college student working as a live-in babysitter for the main character's sister-in-law, is indeed, his wife's child that she conceived at the age of 15 and put up for adoption. For a good portion of the story, she was trying to find her long lost daughter, who was right under her nose. That is one of the several twists in his story. For it to be good twist, you have to act as the reader, kind of, and say "Whoa.. they'd never see that one coming.." It has to be not obvious.
But also, it can't be the complete opposite, like a villain saving a little kid's life. It won't be a twist- it'll be a screwy story that flops in all directions. It has to be something that isn't expect but also could, if you looked at it the right way. Like, in The Innocent, the MC's wife and the babysitter did look very alike, so it should've been obvious. However, it wasn't. It was a good twist.
One thing that I wrote, I'd planned on having the main charachters best friend betray him, but decided it was too obvious, people would expect it.
I asked myself what they, or I wouldn't expect, and made sure there was some logic behind it. That way, people still suspect the best friend (who is innocent) and that distracts them from the real betrayer (Who is actually a more lgical choice of betrayer, though I didn't realize it at first)
Kind of misdirects the reader, they focus all their suspicions on one person and are fooled by annother.
"Trying to pry a twist in afterwards seems likely to end up looking forced."
someone said that.. and i think theres a lot of truth in it. in my view, if the twist doesn't come while planning/writing the story, then it probably doesn't fit. the hard thing i find with twists is making them believable, maybe putting hints in earlier in the story that don't seem to make any sense but when "it" happens the reader will think... "Ohhhh.... i get i now... Damnit! Why didn't i see that coming?!"
i think for a good twist, you have to set up from the beginning. it's got to make sense, be believable, but totally unexpected at the same time. adding it in afterwards could be dangerous, as it might not seem as believable. simply knowing there is going to be a twist, i think, alters the way you write slightly and that helps it be believable.
it could also work on the off chance... but i wouldn't advise throwing away the original...
Just google two words: Reversals, Fiction.
A twist is a reversal on the character's motive, needs, feeling, basically anything. Some of the best twists take on 180 degrees. Ask yourself, what is it that my character wants the most? Does he want to be rich? Well make him poor. Does he want to be married? Well make his wife leave him. Is all he wants from life is a brand new shiny BMW? Well make him crash it. etc.
It might be interesting to look at the word itself: a twist / to twist.
the idea of distorting, breaking, altering, opposing, but also interlacing/entwining.
Don't we have here all the motives for anybody to write a story? Or am I wrong?
I think most of the stories worth telling have a twist, although it's not always a big surprise in the last words. Sometimes the twist is there and yet it hasn't been used because the author decided not to pull that string. Sometimes the twist lies in the style or the choice of the standpoint or the metaphorical meaning...
Of course, I like my stories when I can imagine a reader saying "wow, I didn't see that coming!". But I tend to prefer when my imaginary reader says: "wow! that was interesting... I'll have to think that over..."
That's why I prefer the English word "TWIST" to the French one "CHUTE" (downfall, fall, even collapse sometimes). "chute" is way too explicit.
One last thing: chute is really close to chut! (shush!) so it probably means that it really has to be very discreet!!
Like so your character finally gets what he or she wants, then he or she loses it. Or you never thought the character's close friend is the serial killer.
Separate names with a comma.