Plotting the Twist

Saturday, July 02, 2011
For the past month, I've been struggling with the novel I'm currently reading. (OK, I hear you telling me to just stop reading it, but I'm also reviewing it, so...) I'm on page 181 of 372 and although I like the characters, a problem exists in the action. Something is missing.

What's lacking? A plot twist - no matter how subtle - that makes me say a-ha!

Every piece of writing contains a twist or hook, whether it's a flash fiction piece you submit to a contest or a 400-page novel. Sometimes, journalists use the twist in feature stories, especially when the setup leads to something unexpected.

Let's look at the setup. It's a simple concept, really. Establish the narrative, which makes readers question, 'What if this happened?'. This question lets the writer explore the direction the story will take. Every possibility can be investigated, mapping out the path the story will take.

Then, the twist comes along, throwing the reader (and maybe even the writer) for a loop! It's what keeps readers reading. They want to know the rest of the story, the course this journey will take.

Where should the twist happen? That's up to the writer, but it should be a natural fit. A good twist is difficult to predict, but it feels natural in the scheme of the story.

I'm hopeful I'll come upon a plot twist in the book I'm reading. And maybe I haven't discovered it yet because I haven't reached the pivot point in the story's scheme.

But I'll keep reading and wait for the unpredictable.

by LuAnn Schindler. Read more of LuAnn's work at her website.


Kristi's Book Nook said...

Another great post. Plot twists should be natural, but what exactly does that mean?

Sioux Roslawski said...

LuAnn--I will keep my fingers crossed that you stumble on twist soon. (Jodi Picoult's "Handle with Care" has some great twists and turns, when you get the chance to do some pay-free reading.)

Melissa Ann Goodwin said...

Well done, Lu Ann. I expect a good twist too...hope there is one!

LuAnn Schindler said...

For a plot twist to be natural, a story should progress to a point where something unexpected has to happen. In comedy, we call it "the flip." Conflict and tension should drive a story to that moment where something must happen, and it should be something out of the ordinary.

Sioux and Melissa, I trudged through the rest of this novel yesterday. I never experienced the twist. Glad I finished it and can move on to other books!

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