1. gibble410

    gibble410 WHUPPA Contributor

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    Plot Twists

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by gibble410, Apr 13, 2017.

    Anytime I write something, I try to put a plot twist in. Unfortunately, what I have noticed, especially through a mystery story I am trying to write, I really can't find inspiration for a good plot twist. Anytime I think of one, I remember a story where it has already been used! I have tried to think up new plot twists, but nothing seems to be coming to me. Is this just some form of writer's block? Or are all plot twists just like versions of some other plot twist?

    I know a lot of plot twists are similar, for example when a villain is unmasked or a villain turns out to be a traitor. I know a bunch of plot twists that are very similar and used often, but I would like to have an original plot twist. In some of the writings I have seen on here, some plot twists aren't as cliche as an unmasked villain, but something having to do with the story.

    For an original plot twist, would it be easier to have something to do with the story? Some clarification, I know all plot twists have to do with the story, but one like Star Wars, where Darth Vader turns out to be Luke's father is an original plot twist within the story! One like Scooby Doo, where the villain is unmasked and it turns out to be creepy Miner Mr.Crankhift is just a 'here is the villain, we thought he wasn't the villain' kind of twist.

    Any advice welcome, thanks!

    -gibble
     
  2. truthbeckons

    truthbeckons Active Member

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    You can't really drop in a twist like an afterthought, if you want it to be interesting and effective. For it to really add anything, it should weave into the logic of the whole story, so that you can hint or foreshadow it, or consider all the little differences behind-the-scenes that it would imply, in case any of them would create plot holes or problems.

    There should be some thematic idea which you can illustrate by having something turn out not to be what it first seemed, or not what the reader would reasonably assume. I think that's how you have a meaningful "no, I am your father" kind of twist and not an empty "hey, you know what, it was actually this guy" kind of twist.

    So to come up with a twist in the first place, you should think about your characters, maybe the gist of the story you're trying to tell, and think about what kind of revelation would really build on that. If you know what your central conflict is, think about what kind of twist would make that conflict even more interesting in terms of the character arc (how might it reveal what your protagonist thinks they want vs. what they really need, what they need to learn in order to grow, that kind of thing).

    Or you could take something that you've already decided on, like some important aspect of a character or plot, and find ways to conceal it from the main character so that it can become a revelation.
     
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  3. Homer Potvin

    Homer Potvin Funky like your grandpa's drawers.... Staff Contributor

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    That one's not too original. It's been around since Sophicles at least. So has everything else you're likely to find a book. Embrace derivation!
     
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  4. izzybot

    izzybot Transhuman Autophage Contributor

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    I'm a big fan of the Everything Is A Remix train of thought where 'originality' isn't prized because you can always, always go "ah, well, XYZ has a plot similar to that!" - it's not so much the content as the execution that makes something feel fresh.

    Let's think about the twist in SW. Luke is an orphan, but he's not traumatized over it or seeking vengeance. He seems pretty content living with his aunt and uncle. Ben drops in little bits about having known his father and the lightsaber is kind of a legacy weapon, but we don't see Luke obsessing over it and questioning what happened to his parents, how exactly Vader came to kill his father. The story isn't about Luke's parentage up to the "I am your father" moment - and it doesn't become about it, because they still have to defeat the Empire, but changes Luke and it makes the final encounter very different than if Vader had just been some guy. A good plot twist needs to change the story and not just be a moment of "what? oh no!", I think.

    Compare it to Force Awakens. The story's not about Rey's parentage, either, but we know we should be thinking about it because we've got flashbacks and Rey insisting that her family will come back for her (and simply TFA's existence as a 'second generation' of SW leads people making wacky claims like Finn being Mace Windu's kid or whatever, but that's another layer). TFA isn't about the twist necessarily, but it is built around it, whatever it's going to be, so it's not really a twist. We know it's going to be something.

    My advice is don't build around the twist. Know what it is, and what the ramifications are going to be once it comes to light, but it was way more exciting to find out that Vader was Luke's dad (and Leia his sister) than anything The Last Jedi can throw at us because we hadn't been told to expect a twist earlier in the story. In my wip, one of the mcs is hiding that they have younger siblings, and I try to sort of foreshadow that by having them be somewhat unexpectedly good with kids - but anyone can be good with kids, so it's not like I'm shouting "But what DARK SECRET could possibly equip them to DEAL WITH CHILDREN?!" (it's also a little bit of a red herring thing because I think anyone's more likely to guess that they have a child / children of their own, rather than kid siblings, but anyway).

    It's the difference between "oh, Luke's an orphan, but sometimes people are orphans (especially after a war), so all right" and "Rey's an orphan and here's a flashback of her being abandoned - why was she abandoned? Oh no!". Neither one is original or even super different plot-wise, but the presentation makes it feel different.

    It's not going to be original, but it can still be fun and interesting if you set it up properly.
     
  5. Pinkymcfiddle

    Pinkymcfiddle Banned

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    I would study M Night Shameuponhim if you want to know how not to do plot twists.
     
  6. izzybot

    izzybot Transhuman Autophage Contributor

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    A secondary thought, and maybe not as interesting/helpful of one, but:

    I mean, Scooby-Doo isn't exactly the highest class of storytelling, but it kind of works for this. Every episode of Scooby-Doo has like, two characters outside of the gang, so you know it's going to be one of them who's the monster. Everything we write has a limited cast, too (if not on quite that level), so it's super easy to take the very small amount of characters you may have and sort of ... double up. Everyone has a secret identity! It's kind of a cheap way to add complexity and intrigue. And I'd very much recommend against that kind of twist. It's just so convenient. Obviously you don't want your cast to get too expansive and you want each character to have more than one note, but avoid convenience.

    When I was younger I wrote this space opera kinda thing and every other twist was a "actually, these two strangers are related!" or a "actually, this person is really THAT person!" and - especially because it was in space - it's just far too unlikely that these people would happen to randomly run into each other. Your plot twists shouldn't happen just because they're the neatest way to tie everything back up in a bow: "[character] was looking for his father and oh no! it turns out his father was the evil general he was fighting!" is tidy, but it's cheap.
     
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  7. Pinkymcfiddle

    Pinkymcfiddle Banned

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    How dare you dismiss Scooby Doo with such disdain! Next you will suggest Murder She Wrote is crap. Charlatan!
     
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  8. Apollypopping

    Apollypopping Member

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    I once knew a woman who wanted to name her first daughter Charlatan.
     
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  9. Apollypopping

    Apollypopping Member

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    Thankfully she had a son.
     
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  10. izzybot

    izzybot Transhuman Autophage Contributor

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    Plot twist, I'm the son, and she did name me Charlatan. I go by Charles.
     
  11. Infel

    Infel Contributor Contributor

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    Did somebody say plot twist?

    I'll just leave this here:
     
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  12. Apollypopping

    Apollypopping Member

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    That just played out so well that I'm crying.
     
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  13. gibble410

    gibble410 WHUPPA Contributor

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    Thanks for all the support!

    To @Homer Potvin, the star wars plot twist is not that original, I agree, I am just using it as an example of a twist that wasn't seen often that was used effectively if thats any help? Thanks for all the feedback.


    For @izzybot, really enjoyed the helpful feedback, thanks a million. As to your little Scooby-Doo bit, it definitely is not the highest class of storytelling, but it was just a little something of a plot twist I found repetitive. As for your 'Space Opera' thing, I can totally understand that.

    Thanks for helping everyone, I got some new ideas.
     

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