Discussion – What Makes A Great Plot Twist?


Hello everyone,

The genre I read the most is mystery/thriller, and almost all of these books typically contain at least one dramatic plot twist that changes the complexion of the story.

Some twists are brilliantly revealed and feel as dramatic as they are intended to be, but others have felt underwhelming, so here is a list of things which I think twists need to be in order to have the desired effect.

Unpredictability

I guess this one sounds quite obvious, but I have come across several twists that I was able to predict in advance. Any upcoming twist should be very well concealed with perhaps the most subtle of hints, just to ensure that when it happens, the reader has not seen it coming and is genuinely surprised.

At the same time, twists should still be believable and feel true to the story. If it relies too much on coincidences or a plot that seems contrived, it is much less effective.

Timing

A lot of thrillers follow a pattern of containing a major twist in the middle, and then another one towards the end of the book. I have loved it when a twist in the middle has made me view a story in a totally different way to what I had before, allowing the plot to unravel and the tension to escalate.

This kind of twist cannot arrive too early, as first the story needs to establish its concept and its characters. Meanwhile, I feel any twist that takes place towards the end should still leave enough time for a strong resolution where all of the loose ends are tied up.

Revelation

For me, one of the most important aspects of a plot twist is how it is written. The choice of words that help to build the intrigue, the posing of questions that the reader becomes increasingly desperate to discover the answers to; maybe the use of cliffhangers at the end of a previous chapter.

All of these things can help make sure that the twist has a powerful impact on the reader, especially when they already feel a connection to the story. If it seems hurried or unsubstantiated, then it can come across as confusing rather than fulfilling.


Let’s Discuss!

Do you think these things help make strong plot twists? Is there anything you would add to the list? Let me know in the comments!

Happy reading ๐Ÿ™‚

17 thoughts on “Discussion – What Makes A Great Plot Twist?

  1. I actually feel like a plot twist is great when you KNOW itโ€™s coming but have to keep reading for the sake of seeing the character go through it or whatever. That kind of irony makes reading a thriller intense (for me anyway). Think of A Monster Calls. We all know what will happen but when it does happen it is no less of a twist, no less intense or emotive.

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  2. I think it’s that moment of impact when you get chills down your spine or gasp or cry or smile. Even if we see it coming, I think it’s that moment when it comes that can be wonderful. Nice post.

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  3. This is a great post, Stephen! Some of my favourite plot twists have been the most unpredictable ones so I fully agree with your first point. Another one of my favourites is when we know that a twist is coming because of the build up of tension but don’t know exactly what will happen or who will be involved. As you say, the timing is also very important and sometimes plot twists in the middle or even beginning of the story can work really well.

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    1. Thank you, Darina! I love to read unexpected twists when they are done well. And I agree with you, I also like when we can sense a twist coming but not knowing what it will be. ๐Ÿ˜Š

      Like

  4. I like potentially predictable unpredictability, if that makes sense? Like, if you read really closely or are a suspicious person, you’d be able to maybe guess it, but it’s not obvious either. And the revelation is so important! A poorly written revelation will just ruin the twist

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  5. There is defo a pattern in similar style/genre books, but the twists are still good! Like, i expect them, cuz that’s the genre but they are good. What I don’t like is when there are just too many of them and they are kinda forced.

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  6. Great discussion idea!! The timing is definitely the most important thing for me! It can’t be rushed or happen to abruptly. I enjoy a mix of the predictable and the ones that catch me totally off guard, but the make sense once I mull it over. I can’t stand the twists that are added just to have a twist, but end up not making any sense.

    Erica | Erica Robyn Reads

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