19 responses

  1. patientdreamer
    January 23, 2012

    Hi Susanna,

    Thankyou for this informative Plot twist ideas, from David Lazar. Hadn’t thought about killing of the MC in the middle of the story before…interesting.
    Read patientdreamer´s last article ..“ERIK “…. NEW KID ON THE BLOCK

  2. Jan Morrill
    January 24, 2012

    Thank you Suzannah and David. Excellent information. I have used 1,4 & 5, and now I’m excited to try the others. These even make good writing prompts!

  3. Jon Rutherford
    January 24, 2012

    This is so extraordinarily good and useful I just had to comment to that effect.

    I will be re-reading this tip for sure. I’ve used some of the techniques and thought of using others of them. (I have great difficulty killing off characters I like/love, but have been considering the mid-story demise technique pretty seriously for one story. Oh…no; I know I just can’t bring myself to do it. I’d probably go to pieces.)

    Seldom do I see a how-to kind of article in which every suggestion is worth at least serious consideration if not implementation, but this is one of those exceptional ones. Congratulations, Mr. Lazar, and thanks, Suzannah.

  4. Rose Byrd
    January 24, 2012

    I really like bringing the reader into the mix. This is one of my current favorite tactics. I also truly love reversing character roles, even when allegorical animals are the featured “speakers.” Excellent outline to stretch us even further. Thank you.
    Read Rose Byrd´s last article ..MEETING THE FOUR HORSES

  5. Susan @ 2KoP
    January 24, 2012

    I tried to talk my brother into doing NaNoWriMo with me this past November, but he said he couldn’t because he didn’t know how to write effective plot twists. My 13-year-old son had this to say about plot twists (BTW, this was his second year of NaNo):

    “I write something gaspable. I mean, I write a twist, then read it out loud and make myself gasp. If the gasp was genuine, I know I have a good twist. If I had to force the gasp, I know I have to try something else.”

    This is the reason my young son will be published and successful long before I will.
    Read Susan @ 2KoP´s last article ..Objects in Mirror Are Closer Than They Appear

  6. Marly
    January 24, 2012

    I could not disagree with number 1 more! If I get to the end of a great book, and find out the writer hasn’t even finished it, I will never read one of her books again. In fact, I keep a list of those who have pulled that on me. That is a dirty trick to pull on a reader in my book.
    Would agree with #4. Starting a book in the middle of an exciting scene, while saving any background information until a little later, is a good technique. I would not, however, kill off a character the reader has come to care about just in order to twist the plot, unless it’s something organic to the plot. Again, in my mind, it falls under the category of dirty trick.

    • Suzannah
      January 25, 2012

      Marly, I understand what you’re saying about #1, but I don’t think all open endings are the type you’re thinking of (the type where you feel cheated). For example, open endings are used all the time in literary fiction. You might be able to guess what the characters will decide to do, but it’s not explicitly stated. Alice Munro said on open endings, “I want [a short story] to exist somewhere so that in a way it’s still happening […]” ow.ly/8tQPd

    • Waffle
      December 18, 2012

      It’s not a trick, it’s simply being open minded. In fact it gives you power. Depending on how much you like the story before hand, it’s fun to think of your own ending and discuss it with friends! An open ending can inspire writers and help build their imagination. Honestly, I find stories that end to always feel like they have open endings as well. The world doesn’t stop. So why does there have to be a forced conclusion?

  7. Amber Cuadra
    January 24, 2012

    I like killing off characters. Especially characters no one expects to die. :D It’s always a good way to get the plot going again if you’re running out of steam.
    Read Amber Cuadra´s last article ..Business, News and Inspiration: a.k.a. I suck at blog post titles

  8. Rhiannon
    January 25, 2012

    Great post, thanlks. I am going to try two and three to break up a narrative that I consider too linear – too a follws b follows c. I need some surpises and can see when these might just provide some.

  9. Emily
    January 25, 2012

    Suzannah,
    Just like all your articles, this is amazing and helps with my writing a lot! Thank you, thank you, thank you! I look forward to reading your posts every day!

    ~ Emily

    • Carl D’Agostino
      January 25, 2012

      Re #1 The Lady or the Tiger technique. I would not read the author again that used this. It makes me feel cheated . I want to read a story with conclusion or resolution. If I want to wonder and try to figure out convoluted thinking I will go to my shelves containing the works of John Calvin and the rest of the Puritan theologians like the Mathers and the Cottons.

      • Suzannah
        January 26, 2012

        Carl, this was my response to another commenter above who felt the same as you:

        “I understand what you’re saying about #1, but I don’t think all open endings are the type you’re thinking of (the type where you feel cheated). For example, open endings are used all the time in literary fiction. You might be able to guess what the characters will decide to do, but it’s not explicitly stated. Alice Munro said on open endings, “I want [a short story] to exist somewhere so that in a way it’s still happening […]” ow.ly/8tQPd”

        It’s also important to notice David Lazar’s last paragraph under #1, which says,
        “[...]based on the story and what has occurred thus far, [the reader] can wager a guess and infer an ending in order to satisfy their need to tie up the loose ends in their minds.”

        So, an open ending doesn’t mean you leave your reader with no hints as to where they’re going. It just makes the reader do a little more imaginative work.

    • Suzannah
      January 26, 2012

      Thanks, Emily. I can’t take credit for this post, though, as it was written by David Lazar :)

  10. Georgia
    August 11, 2012

    Another plot twist could be planting tiny little details and then suddenly all these tiny details add up to a major shock. Say someone mentioning their dress label means the label could be found in a murder scene, meaning that person was the murderer!

  11. Robert
    December 28, 2012

    I was thinking about a variation of Point 3: Reverse character roles.
    I had one of my characters suddenly appear to help the hero, shrouded in mystery. Then, at the end of the arc, when they become the boldest of friends, major shock: The deuteragonist was actually one of the monsters the duo had been trying to kill off !
    I believe I can pull it off in an effective way, the character is pretty fleshed out.

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