#17 Plotting 101: Writing Shocking Plot Twists

by | Jun 29, 2020 | Writers Write

Plot Twists

According to Wikipedia, a plot twist?is a?literary technique?that introduces a radical change in the direction or expected outcome of the?plot in a work of fiction. It may change the audience’s perception of the preceding events, or introduce a new conflict that places it in a different context. A plot twist may be?foreshadowed, to prepare the audience to accept it. Additionally, There are a variety of methods used to execute a plot twist, such as withholding information from the audience or misleading it with ambiguous or false information.

Furthermore, Literaryterms.net defines a plot?twist as an unsuspected occurrence or turn of events in the story?that completely changes the direction or outcome of the plot from the direction it was likely to go.


How to Write Plot Twists

To understand how to write plot twists, you need to understand the mechanics behind the types of plot twists. Therefore, read the Wikipedia article mentioned earlier in this post to help with that, but here is a short summary:

  • Anagnorisis
  • Flashback
  • Unreliable narrator
  • Peripeteia
  • Deus ex machina
  • Red herring
  • False protagonist
  • Non-linear narrative
  • Reverse chronology


All plot twists have a few things in common whether you have a character realise something about their own nature (anagnoisis), whether they realise the narrator cannot be trusted (unreliable narrator), or that they in fact are not the hero (false protagonist).


Foreshadowing Plot Twists

This is an essential part of your plot twisting. As the author, you need to sprinkle subtle nuggets in your text pointing to the obvious truth upon which you can call when you reveal your plot twist.

Example (SPOILER ALERT): In Star Wars – The Empire Strikes Back, Luke having been nearly defeated by Darth Vader shouts, “You killed my father,”. To which Darth Vader responds in that croaky voice, “No, Luke, I am your father.” All of the fanboys at this stage fall off their couches and shiver with ecstacy. However, when we go back, we see the hints in the actual movies. Everyone assumes Luke’s father is dead,? so this is a red herring. Luke builds this desire to avenge his father. Vader killed his father, and in a way he did, it is a partial truth.

Additionally, though you need to sprinkle the hints throughout the story, they have to be subtle enough not to reveal the whole thing. Your professional, peer and reader reviews will come in handy, because others will tell you if you are being clever or if you only think you are.


Plot Twists: The Reveal



So you have been setting up the big plot twist and the moment has finally arrived. Firstly, you need to know when to reveal the twist, because timing is everything. Typically, authors reveal the plot twist before, during or after the climax. Alternatively, authors reveal the twist in the middle or the end. Each has its merits and effects the story in different ways so find the point in your story where the reveal will have the most dramatic impact. Then let her rip!



Secondly, you need to understand the method with which you reveal your plot twist. Is it a red herring or reverse chronology? Depending on your answer, the way you reveal your plot twist will be different. To improve the way you write this, I suggest studying the great plot twists in literature as documented in this article from the Reedsy blog, because the author’s jam-packed it with pure knowledge.


The Big Idea: Plot Twists

If executed well, you will be flung into an elite group of writers that have baffled readers. You will be the talk of the town. Get it wrong and the angry mob will rock up at your house with pitch forks ready to hang you. Or worse, you will be relegated to obscurity by harsh memes. Study plot twists seriously if you decide to include them in your work and don’t only focus on utilising one technique, but rather combine as many to make your big reveal that much more captivating.

If you enjoyed this article, please subscribe to receieve more content like this. Also do me and the world a huge favour, and share this article with those who think need to read it. Lastly, check out my other articles on plot in my blog and podcast. And lastly, get to twisting those plots!


Happy reading, Kryptic Fans!