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How Novelists Can Work Plot Twists into Their Stories
by C. S. Lakin
Plot twists are important and powerful elements in a novel. We took a quick look at twists last week, and I explained that you can have these twists in various places in your story, and they can vary in strength.
One novel may have lots of small twists that are basically complications and obstacles the protagonist encounters. But often you’ll have one or two huge twists that wrench the story, and those are terrific when done well.
So what do you need to keep in mind when creating a plot twist?
Twists are all about redirection. Going against expectations.
Think about what readers are expecting and hoping for at a given moment in the story. Then keep twisting the story into new directions that stun and delight them.
If your POV character is seeing indications that her boyfriend is going to propose to her—he’s invited her to a special dinner, says he has something important to tell her, etc., she’s going to get her hopes up. The more you, the author, can imply that’s the boyfriend’s intention, the more impacting the twist will be when he shows up at the restaurant and tells her, sadly, that he has to call it quits. That his long-lost love he thought dead was really alive and well in Chicago, and he just happened to bump into her at the dry cleaners. Or something like that.