- Plot twist (n.) - A plot twist is a radical change in the expected direction or outcome of the plot of a novel, film, television series, comic, video game, or other work of narrative. It is a common practice in narration used to keep the interest of an audience, usually surprising them with a revelation. Some "twists" are foreshadowed.
Some of you may ask some questions that some might answer and some might ignore. How can you create a good story? What the is the most efficient way to keep the readers interested? What can I use to make my story unique and distinct to other stories? Well, this is one of the answers, plot twists.
What Are Plot Twists?
Plot twists, as defined above, are unexpected changes in a story's plotline. A plot twist is usually shocking and surprising, as they are not expected by the readers to come. They also keep the audiences entertained, persuading them keep on reading your content. In the world of Creepypastas, they are the perfect weapon to impress and scare the shit out the readers.
What Are the Types of Plot Twists?
Based on a research I did, there are 11 types, are shall I say, mechanics in formulating a plot twist: Anagnorisis, Flashback, Unreliable narrator, Peripeteia, Deus ex machinima, Poetic justice, Chekhov's gun, Red herring, In medias res, Non-linear narrative, and Reverse chronology.
This method is mostly used in mystery genres and horror genres. Anagnorisis is a twist that reveals a person's identity that was not revealed before. They are usually added at the end. One example of this is an Athenian tragedy titled Oedipus Rex (Oedipus the King in English), where Oedipus kills his own father and then marries a woman; he didn't know the horrible truth until the climax -- the woman he married was her own mother, and his mother wasn't aware that the man she married was her own son.
This also applies to the narrator itself when writing a story. One example is this: The story starts with the protagonist telling his best-friend that he missed his father, when he died because of an incurable disease, then the climax reveals he lied to his own best-friend -- the protagonist actually killed his own father then hid his body somewhere. (Don't use this plot for your own pasta. This is already used in this story.)
This is self-explanatory, but I will define this as accurate as possible.
Flashbacks are vivid reversions the protagonist will have at the climax. This kind of plot twist reveals details the protagonist didn't understand/have at the start. This can also be merged with Anagnorisis, as they tend to reveal a past character's true identity that protagonist believed haven't had knowledge of, or the protagonist is one of the antagonist's victims.
This is the least used kind of plot twist. In this one, the narrator manipulates or fabricates the story's plotline to a false, persuading the readers to keep up with the story. The unreliable narrator twists usually go at the end of a story. After reading this part, the readers commonly question their personal beliefs about the previous narration, thus "blowing their minds".
- Flashback, or analepsis, is a sudden, vivid reversion to a past event it is used to surprise the reader with previously unknown information that provides the answer to a mystery, places a character in a different light, or reveals the reason for a previously inexplicable action. The Alfred Hitchcock film Marnie employed this type of surprise ending. Sometimes this is combined with the above category, as the flashback may reveal the true identity of one of the characters, or that the protagonist is related to one of the villain's past victims, as Sergio Leone did with Charles Bronson's character in "Once Upon a Time in the West" or Frederick Forsyth's "The Odessa File".
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This is a sudden reversal of the protagonist's fortune that shows up naturally and unintentionally from the character's circumstances. This is the one of the most obscure methods of formulating a plot twist, but is highly-advisable to horror writers generally, specifically to everyone who writes about mental illnesses.
The good type of reversal is what the protagonist believes to be true, but is actually false after a certain event happens. Refer to this example: The protagonist attempts to commit suicide after believing he killed his own mother, then the truth was revealed when his father saved him from doing such thing. His father said to him that his son didn't kill his mother, but instead, his father killed his wife. (This is already done, so don't attempt to use this plotline.)
The bad type is just the vice-versa of good type. This is what the protagonist believes to be false, but is true after a certain event. It is at its most effective when used to a story about a mysterious creature whose existence is uncertain or about a urban legend everyone didn't/did believe to (also applies to Slenderman). Refer to this example: The protagonist listen to a campfire story about a mythical creature that roams the woods at night. When everyone was asleep, the protagonist goes to the woods, just to find the creature following him from behind. (This is not used, but just don't use it; just don't, please.)
- Peripeteia is a sudden reversal of the protagonist's fortune, whether for good or ill, that emerges naturally from the character's circumstances. Unlike the deus ex machina device, peripeteia must be logical within the frame of the story. An example of a reversal for ill would be Agamemnon's sudden murder at the hands of his wife Clytemnestra in Aeschylus' The Oresteia or the inescapable situation Kate Hudson's character finds herself in at the end of The Skeleton Key. This type of ending was a common twist ending utilised by The Twilight Zone, most effectively in the episode "Time Enough at Last" where Burgess Meredith's character is robbed of all his hope by a simple but devastating accident with his glasses. A positive reversal of fortune would be Nicholas Van Orton's suicide attempt after mistakenly believing himself to have accidentally killed his brother, only to land safely in the midst of his own birthday party, in the film The Game. The Filipino horror film Mag-ingat Ka Sa... Kulam depicts the sudden changes in the behavior of the protagonist Maria."
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Deus ex machinima
There's no very accurate definition for this, but I'll refer to Wikipedia's nearest definition. And I admit, I didn't even understand it.
- Deus ex machina is a Latin term meaning "god out of the machine." It refers to an unexpected, artificial or improbable character, device or event introduced suddenly in a work of fiction to resolve a situation or untangle a plot.In Ancient Greek theater, the "deus ex machina" ('ἀπὸ μηχανῆς θεός') was the character of a Greek god literally brought onto the stage via a crane (μηχανῆς—mechanes), after which a seemingly insoluble problem is brought to a satisfactory resolution by the god's will. In its modern, figurative sense, the "deus ex machina" brings about an ending to a narrative through unexpected (generally happy) resolution to what appears to be a problem that cannot be overcome (see Mel Brooks' History of the World, Part I). This device is often used to end a bleak story on a more positive note.
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This is an ironic, often unintentional, twist that occurs at the end or near-end of the story. This is not usually used in horror, but is also advisable. Twists like this is the easiest to formulate, as they affect the antangonist and not the protagonist. There are two known words related to this -- revenge and karma.
In this one, the antagonist who do his deeds will be rewarded back, often with a negative one. A device like this, commonly used in modern literature, is a twist in the villain's faith, where he/she gets caught in his/her own trap. Refer to this example: The story starts with a mother abusing her child. It gets to the point the child already got too much, then decides to kill his own mother to stop her abusive actions toward him. (I'm not sure if this is used, but just don't use this one.)
- Poetic justice is a literary device in which virtue is ultimately rewarded or vice punished in such a way that the reward or punishment has a logical connection to the deed. In modern literature, this device is often used to create an ironic twist of fate in which the villain gets caught up in his/her own trap. For example, in C. S. Lewis' The Horse and His Boy, Prince Rabadash climbs upon a mounting block during the battle in Archenland. Upon jumping down while shouting "The bolt of Tash falls from above," his hauberk catches on a hook and leaves him hanging there, humiliated and trapped. Another example of poetic justice can be found in Chris Van Allsburg's picture book, The Sweetest Fig, where a cold-hearted dentist is cruel to his dog and ends up getting his comeuppance.
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There's no accurate definition to this, but I'll refer to the Wikipedia's nearest brief definition.
- Chekhov's gun refers to a situation in which a character or plot element is introduced early in the narrative. Often the usefulness of the item is not immediately apparent until it suddenly attains pivotal significance. A similar mechanism is the "plant", a preparatory device that repeats throughout the story. During the resolution, the true significance of the plant is revealed.
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It's complicated for me, but I'll try to define it by myself.
This is a twist where a certain character provides false information/clues that lead the investigators to an incorrect conclusion. Although not generally used in horror genre, it can be used to detective stories and mystery fiction, if you ever feel like being Sir Conan Doyle or Sherlock.
- A red herring is a false clue intended to lead investigators toward an incorrect solution. This device usually appears in detective novels and mystery fiction. The red herring is a type of misdirection, a device intended to distract the protagonist, and by extension the reader, away from the correct answer or from the site of pertinent clues or action. The Indian murder mystery film Gupt: The Hidden Truth cast many veteran actors who had usually played villainous roles in previous Indian films as red herrings in this film to deceive the audience into suspecting them. In the bestselling novel The Da Vinci Code, the misdeeds of a key character named "Bishop Aringarosa" draw attention away from the true master villain. "Aringarosa" literally means "red herring." A red herring can also be used as a form of false foreshadowing.
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In Media Res
This one literally starts at the middle part of the story, not at the beginning, not at the end. The description of the protagonist, the setting, every details are revealed through means of series of flashbacks by the protagonist. This method generates the twist when the cause or reason for the events to happen is revealed at the climax. This is also a non-linear approach in writing a story.
- In medias res (Latin for "into the middle of things") is a literary technique in which narrative proceeds from the middle of the story rather than its beginning. Information such as characterization, setting, and motive is revealed through a series of flashbacks. This technique creates a twist when the cause for the inciting incident is not revealed until the climax. This technique is used within the film The Prestige in which the opening scenes show one of the main characters drowning and the other being imprisoned. Subsequent scenes reveal the events leading up to these situations through a series of flashbacks. In Monsters, a similar beginning proves to be a flashforward as it is the linear conclusion of the events that then follow; this is not apparent until the end. In medias res is often used to provide a narrative hook.
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This works if a story reveals details in a non-chronological order. The information is fragmented and put into different parts of the story. Non-linear narrative also requires the readers to try to connect the separated information together to create a chronological story in their minds.
- A non-linear narrative works by revealing plot and character in non-chronological order. This technique requires the reader to attempt to piece together the timeline in order to fully understand the story. A twist ending can occur as the result of information that is held until the climax and which places characters or events in a different perspective. Some of the earliest known uses of non-linear story telling occur in The Odyssey, a work that is largely told in flashback via the narrator Odysseus. The nonlinear approach has been used in works such as the films Mulholland Drive, Sin City, Premonition, Pulp Fiction, the television show Lost (especially in many episodes in the later seasons), and the book Catch-22.
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When the story is written in a reverse chronological order, which the story starts at the starts at the end and then ends at the start, it is considered reverse chronology. I think you don't need further explanation, as this already understood by people. I will refer to Wikipedia's definition.
- Reverse chronology works by revealing the plot in reverse order, i.e., from final event to initial event. Unlike chronological storylines, which progress through causes before reaching a final effect, reverse chronological storylines reveal the final effect before tracing the causes leading up to it; therefore, the initial cause represents a "twist ending." Examples employing this technique include the films Irréversible and Memento, the play Betrayal by Harold Pinter, and Martin Amis' Time's 'Arrow.
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Where to Add Plot Twists?
You can add plot twists anywhere you want, but let me leave one note -- they must logical and related to the story. Even you can put it anywhere in the story, there are also recommended and not recommended ones.
- At the beginning - Just don't, please, unless you're writing a story with a reverse chronological twist.
- At the middle - At this part of the story, it's best to have another consequent plot twist contrasting with this to avoid blanding up your story.
- At the end - This is the most used, and probably the best. As most of you know, plot twists are always found at the end of stories.
When to Add Plot Twists?
If you think you story is very predictable, then I incredibly recommend you to have a plot twist at the end. With this, you will surprise the reader with the shock ending your provided. You gave them an ending they didn't expect to come, thus, you "blew their minds out".
If you think you're story is mysterious and doesn't provide much information, then you might not include them. Your story is difficult to predict due to lack of optional details. There's no need for a plot twist. But at least, if you want to add them, then go for it! I'm not going to stop you.
Why Do I Have to Add Plot Twists?
Do you want a story that is nearly impossible to find when added to thousands of other creepypastas sharing the same theme? That's probably the cause why you don't want to write a story that is beyond impossible to find, you need to make your story unique.
Ask yourself, what makes a story unique? The ending of a story is what makes a story unique. One example is the micropasta Mother's Call. If you want an TL;DR for that, then here it goes -- the story starts with a girl playing with her toys. Her mother calls her from the kitchen, so the girl put down her toys and went downstairs. On her way, someone from the cupboard pulled her, that being her mother. She said to her daughter that she was hiding, because she heard it too.
If analyze it logically, it is very unpredictable. That's what make a story unique, the ending. Focus on the darkly-twisted ending of the story, then treat the other parts of the story like how you treated the ending.
One More Note...
When formulating a plot twist, make sure there's a connection between the story and the twist, and make sure there's a degree of sense. Do you want to a write story about woman torturing her friend, then the ending reveals that it was actually her friend torturing her? It is bad, because it is. Does it make sense? Does it have connection with the events? Is it possible to happen in real life? If you're answer to all of these questions is no, then think about your life again. If you're answer to all of these is yes, then you're on the right path. Keep that up!
"Plot twist is love, plot twist is life!"