1. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    The best plot twists you didn't see coming....

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by jannert, Apr 30, 2016.

    This may be the wrong place for this thread, but the Lounge is down, as is the book discussion thread. However, I think it has relevance to the Plot Development topic.

    Of books you've read, which ones had the best plot twists? Those twists you didn't see coming, but which made perfect sense once you saw them?

    The best one I can think of just now comes from Lord of the Rings, so if you haven't read it or seen the film, stop here if you don't want a major spoiler:

    The moment when Gollum, not Frodo, takes the Ring into the fire. Now I did NOT see that coming, and when Frodo turns to Sam and says "I've changed my mind," (or whatever his quote actually was) puts the ring on and vanishes, I nearly fell out of my chair. I was SO horrified. And then Gollum swoops in, grabs the ring, and the momentum carries him over the edge into the fire. (Much better done in the book than the literal 'cliffhanger' shite in the movie which was cheesy and bloody awful.)

    I had to close the book at that point and get my breath back. And my next thought was 'genius.' Tolkien is a genius. He foreshadowed that event so heavily all through the story, but I didn't see it coming. What a moment. And it was perfectly right. Frodo was not superhuman, and he was unable to cast the ring away after all. Somebody else had to do it, and even they didn't do it on purpose. Any other kind of ending would have diminished the power of that ring, wouldn't it?

    It's also a masterclass in how to manipulate reader focus. We were so focused getting Frodo to Mordor and to Mount Doom that we forgot to worry about what he was going to do when he got there.
     
    Last edited: Apr 30, 2016
  2. Lifeline
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    Lifeline The Dark - not in Wonderland Supporter Contributor

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    For me - although I am not sure if it counts as real twist - it is the short story by Asimov "The Last Question"

    When Multivac at the very last line says "Let there be light". It stopped my heart for a moment.
     
    Last edited: Apr 30, 2016
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  3. Mckk
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    It could also be because the solution was very simple in LOTR - throw the ring into the fire of Mount Doom, and you're done. It's just a given it will happen, like evil witches dying in fairytales. Frodo was seen as one of very few people who seemed to be able to withstand the ring's power - he struggled, but more or less he overcame, with some help. Definitely good use of manipulation of reader's focus, as you said, that we'd never question just how it would happen, nor Frodo's character. We forgive him because he's human (ok, hobbit) and just trying his damnedest to do what's right, failing sometimes on the way but always trying to get back on track - we never expected him to turn to the other side.

    It might be why Darth Vadar is so legendary - that moment when he turned to the dark side, that despite everything and all the support and teaching he got, there's evil in the heart that cannot be suppressed. It's the fall of a hero at the very moment when it really counts, and therefore also least expected.

    It's also relatively rare to find such stories - the true tragedy of seeing a good person choose evil, and in doing so become evil. It's the moment when the hero no longer regards his actions as wrong, and wasting all the good and sacrifices made for the cause's sake and for the hero's sake, that shows a tragic change of heart.

    I can definitely see why people read Christian analogies into LOTR.
     
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  4. Simpson17866
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    Simpson17866 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Before I watched Frozen, I did not realize that Disney Princess movies were capable of twists:

    The older sister accidentally freezes the younger sister's heart. The younger sister finds out that only an Act of True Love can save her, so she races back to the castle so that the Charming Prince that she fell in Love At First Sight with can give her a True Love's Kiss.

    "Oh, Anna. If only there was someone out there who loved you."

    Charming Prince was a psychopath who only seduced Anna so that he could take the throne after arranging an "accident" for her sister. This was the most chilling "Secret Villain" Reveal that I've ever seen in my life because I didn't consider the possibility that Disney could portray a villain as somebody who can make the audience trust him until it's too late.

    But the absolute greatest plot twist in general that I've ever found was Veronica Schanoes Burning Girls (published on Tor.com) about Jewish immigrants to America fleeing the Cossacks of Europe, only to be followed by a demon who'd plagued them before.

    When I got to what I thought was the ending, I was incredibly disappointed that the author had basically recycled "Rumpelstiltskin," and not with any particularly clever changes.

    And then the narrator's sister, the sister that the narrator has fought so hard for throughout the story, dies in the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire.

    When I thought that the ending was ridiculously Diablous Ex Machina, I was still overwhelmed by the narrator's description. Then I went back to read the story again in case I missed any foreshadowing, and the first sentence of the story was

    "In America, they don’t let you burn."

    This took the story to a whole new level because I realized that the entire plot with the demon "Rumfeilstilizkahan" was a distraction: in Europe, the family wasn't in danger from the demon, they had defeated the demon once already in Europe and they would defeat the demon again in America. It was the Cossacks - mortal, non-magical, perfectly normal humans - who posed the greatest threat to their lives that chased them out of Europe, not the demon, and it was the Capitalists who posed the greatest threat to their lives in America.
     
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  5. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    And in a broader sense, as regards the manipulation of reader focus, the way even though Frodo is clearly set up as the "standard bearer", the labeled hero of the story, yes, and not to detract from his importance, but he's not the hero. Samwise is. We've talked about it before, you and I, that it was the love and faith of Samwise Gamgee that literally saves the whole world. It's my go-to example of how being in love can answer to things other than romance. ;) I know Tolkien himself would likely never have supported that idea, given the where and when of his life, but there's no way for me not to see that the love between these two hobbits is the key to the whole story. Everything else is smoke and mirrors.
     
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  6. Selbbin
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    Selbbin I hate you Contributor

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    Not in books, and not really a plot twist, more of a reveal, but the ending to the severely under-rated and neglected film The Drop. It's very very hard to surprise me. I cans see plot twists a mile off. But I was genuinely surprised by such a simple revelation.
     
  7. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    Totally off-topic, and forgive the minor derail, but was it you who I saw commenting a while back on being perplexed as to how/why viewers mentioned being genuinely frightened during the film The Witch?
     
  8. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    Oh, yes, I won't argue on that point. And I didn't call Frodo the hero. It's just that everybody more or less expected him to dump the ring if he managed to get to Mount Doom (or possibly Sam, in a pinch, if Frodo couldn't make it, as Sam also had handled it.) I just didn't expect what happened at all.

    And yet, why not? Everybody who handles the ring has trouble letting go of it, and some of the characters (Gandalf and Faramir) won't even touch it because they know what it can do. So why did I believe all along that the only thing the hobbits had to do was get to Mount Doom and they'd just chuck it in ...either of them or both of them. I should have known it would be nearly impossible. The ring was close to its maker, close to the fire where it was made, Sauron now knew exactly where it was and what was about to happen. The ring had been weighing on Frodo much harder than it did on Bilbo, and look at the trouble Bilbo had getting rid of it. And how many times was Gollum's part in the whole thing foretold? "Even the wise can't see all ends," etc. It was one of those climaxes that should have occurred to me, but thanks to 'oh, look, a squirrel' in the hands of a master storyteller, I didn't.

    This also brings up an intriguing question. What would Sam have done, if Gollum hadn't turned up? Would he have tried to get the ring from Frodo, or maybe even pushed Frodo into the fire himself? You do get the feeling that he would have done something.
     
  9. Wreybies
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    :-D I just a visual of Gollum saying, "Look, Precious. We sees a squirrel!" ;)
     
  10. Fernando.C
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    There are two great twists from two very different books that come to mind.

    First, from Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows:

    The reveal about Snape was, one of the greatest and best written twists I've ever read. That he was loyal to Dumbledore, and more importantly the reason behind all that he had done; His love for Lily Evans. I did not see that coming in the slightest. But once revealed, it made perfect sense to me, it was like the last piece of a puzzle and looking back, I could see how masterfully J.K. Rowling had put all the pieces in place, all the hints, all the signs were there throughout the entire series. Snape's treatment of Harry, his hatred of Harry's father, every action Snape took in the entire series made sense in the context of that reveal.
    And it was a powerful twist too. The tragic tale of Severus Snape, A love that was never fulfilled and yet he never let go of. the regret that haunted him for the rest of his life because of the role he played in Lily's death. And ultimately giving his life to right his wrong. This is what makes Snape one of the greatest tragic hero/anti-heroes in literature.

    The second one is from the Mistborn trilogy by Brandon Sanderson, an amazing work of high fantasy, specifically the third and last book: The Hero of Ages:

    The reveal that Sazed was the Hero of Ages and not Vin took me by surprise, yet was beautifully done. Vin was the mian character of the story and the trilogy was very much about her and her growth both as a character and a a powerful Allomancer. It was natural for us readers to assume that she was the prophesied Hero of Ages, yet Sazed made complete sense as he Hero of Ages, even though I didn't see it util the revelation. the way his entire arc throughout the trilogy and in particular his crisis of faith in the third book al tied into this shows what a great storyteller Brandon Sanderson is.
     
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  11. DeadMoon
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    DeadMoon Contributing Member Contributor

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    This is from a movie but still a nice twist. From Sleepaway Camp (the original) The MC, a teenage girl, turns out to be not only the killer but a boy. It is relieved in the last few moments when she/he is standing on the beach naked holding the head of another boy.
     
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    123456789 Contributing Member Contributor

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    In Lolita, at least three times.

    1. When you think Humbert Humbert is going to drown his wife (Lolita's mother) in the lake, and he then he doesn't, and then in the next chapter or so, she finds out his secret, runs away and then minutes later gets hit by a car.

    2. When he gives Lolita a drug to make her sleep, so that he can take advantage of her, and then, instead she wakes up and wants to show him what she learned at summer camp.

    3. When you find out Lolita is the girl mentioned in the story's prologue who died of childbirth.
     
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  13. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    Well, yikes to both of those. I've not seen the film or read the book, but yikes.
     
  14. Feo Takahari
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    Feo Takahari Active Member

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    Not a book, but I love when one theme is hidden underneath another. The primary theme of Nihilumbra is death, and there's all kinds of foreshadowing that things are going to end badly for the protagonist. He was born of the Void, the Void follows behind him, and there doesn't seem to be any way for him to ever escape it. I was certain the ending would be him surrendering and letting the Void consume him in order to save the world, reflecting on his journey and the things he needed to learn in order to make that sacrifice.

    The secondary theme is spiritual growth. When he finally lets the Void claim him, he's completed his emotional journey, and since he's no longer empty inside, the Void no longer wants him.

    As for Frozen, I thought the real twist was that
    Anna's "true love" is between her and her sister.
     
  15. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    I remember my husband (a great Harry Potter fan) being really bowled over by that twist. I haven't read it myself, but I can see where it would have been, especially if nobody saw it coming.
     
  16. Iain Aschendale
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    One that left me stunned for days was the very last line of "Surface Detail" by Iain M. Banks. It is, I think, the only instance in a Culture series book where you must have read a prior book ("Use of Weapons") to understand the present one, but the level of detail added by that single, last line is immense. I'm not going to post a spoiler, because if you haven't read the Culture series, it will make no sense; if you've read both books referenced above, you'll know just what I'm talking about; and if you've only read one of them, it will ruin the other for you.
     
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  17. Selbbin
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    Selbbin I hate you Contributor

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    Yarr
     
  18. CGB
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    CGB Active Member

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    I agree, I didn't see this coming and also found it to be pretty amazing. DO you think she had this twist planned from the very beginning?
     
    Last edited: May 2, 2016
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  19. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    I saw it the other day, and every time the camera cut to the area where the corn stalks had been arranged into teepees out in the open, all I could think was, "Um... maybe somebody wants to check that corn for ergot, because.... reasons." :wtf: :bigconfused:
     
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  20. Mikmaxs
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    I don't know if this was the most surprising plot twist I've ever read, but one of my favorites was in The Dresden Files, Book 15: Skin Game.
    (SPOILERS! OBVIOUSLY!)
    Near the middle of the climax, it's Harry Dresden (A wizard,) and Micheal Carpenter (A knight wielding a holy sword,) and they're in a standoff between an immensely powerful troll monster, another wizard, and a fallen angel. Just when things can't possibly get any worse, we also find out that the powerful troll monster is *also* imbued with Demon powers, making him even stronger. And so is the enemy wizard.

    And *then* another powerful enemy (A nearly indestructible shapeshifter,) walks in, saying that he just killed off the only remaining ally left to our plucky heroes. So now it's a four versus two, and both of our heroes are hopelessly outmatched.


    And then the narrator references Aliens, cuts back to three days prior, and uses a flashback to explain in great detail how Dresden planned that this would happen, set up a double agent in the enemy's team, and was absolutely ready for the whole thing.

    It's hard to explain how great this was, but it helps to know that all of the preceding books usually end up with Harry Dresden in these situations. He's always got his back to a wall, hopelessly outmanned, making things out by the skin of his teeth. He always wins, sure, but to find out that, for the first time in *fifteen books* he actually maneuvered things right how he wanted them...

    It was pretty great.
     
  21. Fernando.C
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    Yeah I'm sure she'd planned it from day one. For one thing, J.K. Rowling is too meticulous an outliner to make up major plot points and twists like this as she goes along. Especially when you look at how she handled other plot lines: Horcruxes are introduced in the sixth novel only for us to learn that Riddle's diary from Chamber of Secrets was in fact a Horcrux all along, the same goes for the deathly hollows and Harry's invisibility cloak.

    Besides, after the Snape reveal, when you look back at everything at Snape did throughout the seven books, it all makes sense in the context of his true motivation, nothing feels contradictory. It wouldn't have been so if she hadn't planned it from the beginning.
     
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  22. Oscar Leigh
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    Oscar Leigh Contributing Member

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    Unless she designed those things specifically to make sense in the context of the past books. And I wouldn't exactly hold up Snape as an amazing plot twist in particular.*cough, cough, Harry Potter is very mediocre, cough, cough*.
     
  23. Fernando.C
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    I'm not saying that's not possible, but I've read every single Harry Potter book at least 4 time (both in original English and the translated version) and those twists and reveals always feel so natural and organic that it's hard to imagine she didn't plan it all from the beginning.
    Although I guess it really doesn't matter, either way J.K Rowling's a genius of storytelling.

    Speaking of which...

    Did you just call Harry Potter MEDIOCRE? REALLY MEDIOCRE?!!

    Dude don't you know you're talking to the Harry Potter Geek Extraordinaire? I should set the Dementors on you for that you MUGGLE:supermad:
    :-D
     
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  24. Cave Troll
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    Cave Troll Bite the bullet, do your own thing. Contributor

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    The twist in Bet Me. It lulled me into a fun sitcomish first 4 chapters or so, and then it made me want to fornicate the bloody book with a chainsaw. :superlaugh:And by the end the author definitely earned a flaying for being so damned manipulative, and well written that I had no choice but to continue reading it. The worst part is the big sex scene she teased on about for endless pages, was as anti-climatic as the ending is over cliche.:supergrin:(Warning: don't read unless you are a literary masochist):superlaugh:

    @Fernando.C I would have to agree with @Oscar Leigh, that HP was mediocre. There is a theory that puts Nevel Longbottom on the chosen one docket, because he and Harry share a lot in common in their lives. Not to mention Nevel pulls the sword of Gryphindor from the Sorting Hat and kills Nagini, something Harry was supposed to do (it being his quest and all). That and Harry was the only one suppose to be able to pull the sword of Gryphindor to begin with. On that note, don't sick a bunch of torn up black sheets on people dude. It is not called for nor is it very polite. :supergrin:
     
  25. peachalulu
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    Not really plot twists in the conventional sense more story decisions that surprised me. The book is called the Breeze Horror by Candace Caponegro and it has a typical cheezy early 80's 90's horror book cover but the book was surprisingly good and memorable. 3 things that surprised me -
    1. The heroine's love interest is built up and torn down. He turns out to be an ineffectual weakling. She has to save herself.
    2. The people treat the infected like trash. Literally.
    3. The infected become unkillable and develop telekinetic powers and turn the tables on the uninfected. Weird, weird twist - zombies as the underdogs.

    Another is the Dollkeeper by Jack Scaparro - not the best written horror I've ever read but certainly an interesting twist. The story is about a person abducting local children and killing them. The police chief is worried about his job investigating the crimes, and his children's safety. The local librarian is horrified and helps out with taking care of his children after school. And the book revolves around the third person shifting pov of the children, the police chief and the librarian. Turns out the librarian has split personality and soon discovers through her blackouts that she is going bat-crap crazy and killing the children.
     

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