Plot Twist: What, Why, How

Shocked Face

A plot twist is a glue in the word form for your reader, if compelled well. There is nothing more precious in a short story than a plot twist in the very end of it. Of course, it only works for a good plot twist, an effective one, something that will make your reader shout in disbelief and keep turning the pages. What makes a decent plot twist, then, and how can a writer create one?

Distract the Reader

One of the most effective tricks is to draw the main character’s attention to the things that seem more important but are actually just misleading them. While the main character makes wrong connections and comes up with wrong conclusions, the reader has no choice but to follow and get into your trap, too. All you need to do on this stage is think about what is the least expected but still in-tune with the whole story and include it into the plot where the twist is expected. Yes, thinking through might take some time, and in our busy lives we are not always ready to sacrifice this time for our hobbies, busy with your college essay writing, but make sure to find some time and you will see it was worth it.

Leave the Path of Expectancy

Of course, your readers will make the assumptions regarding your characters and the possible plot development. Your task here is to do everything to not satisfy them! No, of course we do not tell you should write about a troll appearing right where the young lovers were going to kiss for the first time (even though it would seem suitable for some genres). What we mean is that your readers have certain expectations, and you have to surprise them at this point. Think every expected option trough and refuse to use any of them. Choose to 1) satisfy the reader in the unpredictable way (for example, the reader knows the main character is most likely to die because of a disease – make the maniac kill them before the operation that would most likely be fatal anyway). These twists should not always be so shocking or cruel, of course. You can also choose to 2) make the twist absolutely not what the reader could have thought and therefore shock him.

Suspicious Look


Brainstorming the ideas is usually a working option in any sphere of life. When it comes to writing, you need to try an exercise. Write down all the ideas of a plot twist you can possibly think of. Later, read them though and sort them into three imaginary piles: Not Needed, Needed Later, Needed Now. The first one will contain the ideas that are too cliche, too vague or too unrealistic. Throw them away. The second pile is the one that can be used in a different plot, but cannot make any good when it comes to the actual idea. The third pile contains the ideas that are good enough for you to implement them into the plot.


Foreshadowing is a special way of placing the hints carefully into the plot, but not paying too much attention to them. This way, the twist will seem logical and yet, still unexpected. Even if the reader reads the book again later, it will be obvious that the story is thought through. You can actually play with this technique, making the hints more frequent or more obvious. You can make it a few-paragraph thing or keep it through the whole story.

Tell Your Reader Everything

Does not work for the novels, but works for the short stories or only one part of a complete plot of a long one. Make sure to give the reader all the needed information for the scene to comprehend. After this, continue in a usual way, making the reader feel like this information is not too important and forget about it. And then – bounce! – you are striking the reader again with the previously mentioned hint. Make sure to remind the key points of the previously told info so the reader is in awe and is shocked they could have missed it.

Reading a Book

Mistakes to Avoid

Here is a short list of mistakes you do not want to make while working on your plot twist:

  1. Obvious plot twists. Will most likely not be recognized as plot twists or will disappoint the reader with the predictability.
  2. Too much clues revealed. If you feel like there are too many bits of information that can ruin the magic of a plot twist, simply remove some of them. Your aim is to keep the reader intrigued.
  3. Plot twist makes no sense. Make sure your twist is more logical than three ponies that go shopping in the New York in the 50-s.

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