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How to Write a Killer Plot Twist Kill Your Ending

P - Plot Twists: Unexpected Surprise Plot Twists 

Plot Twists done right are an unpredictable, but natural set of circumstances that burst into the narrative and alter the course of your plot. Your job as the writer is to foreshadow the plot twist while directing the readers attention away from it. If you reader predicts it you're not doing it right.

This isn't a post on how to write an effective plot twist. Nope. Just a list of some of my favorite plot twists and some of the overused ones.  There's also some really "out there," plot twists thrown into the mix.  But the idea is to brainstorm and that requires coming up with some crazy ideas then whittling your idea down to something you can work with. Remember the old rule from James Scott Bell, it always works for me when listing things. Bell writes for the Killzone Blog. Make a list of 25 or 50 or 100. Throw out the first 20% of your list.The ideas that spring to mind quickly are too obvious. Probe deep into your brain. That's damn good advice from Bell. Check out his site: For Writers James Scott Bell

For this post I brainstormed over 500 possible Plot Twists. I narrowed it to 20.

Plot Twist Ideas:

1. Backup never shows
2. Your MC accidentally kills someone
3. A major secret is revealed or hidden
4. Your character runs out of money while on the run/hero runs out of ammo during shootout/climax 
5. Your protagonist is being tricked into doing the worst possible thing. She thinks she is saving someone, but her actions are actually going to harm or kill someone.
6. A character suddenly begins acting out of character, acts suspicious for reasons we the reader cannot decipher. He is a police officer and he begins taking late night runs, but he was never a runner. He begins acting secretive. He changes the passwords on all of his electronic devices so that his wife cannot access them. He no longer has lunch with his police partner. Disappears during routine office hours and gives unbelievable answers when asked where he's been. His demeanor changes. He adds extra bolt locks to the doors on his home. He purchases more off duty guns and ammo. He is quick with his temper.
7. Your character is caught at the border with a fake passport
8. A spontaneous hostage is taken/someone is kidnapped 
9. A misunderstanding makes your protagonist appear guilty
10. A material witness is killed or disappears 
11. Character asking someone to do something on telephone is shown to be in real life threatening situation at the end of the call -- a trap is being set.
12. a moment of realization showing the villain has a long pattern of doing the same thing to others (serial killers, child molesters, satanic killers, family annihilators)

13. Old flame returns who wants to rekindle relationship while husband and wife are in the middle of trying to salvage already damaged marriage. Husband sneaks out to buy a pack of smokes and lies about where he's going. 
14. It is revealed that the protagonist's best ally has been playing for the other team the entire time. This betrayal is first reveled to readers then chapters later it is revealed to the protagonist.
15. New evidence shows that earlier assumptions were wrong. Protagonists was on the trail of the wrong killer the whole time. A close Ally has been feeding her wrong information.
16. Someone plants evidence making it appear that the protagonists is the culprit.
17. A very computer savvy villain uses social media to make it appear the protagonist is doing bad things and her family, friends and co-workers begin to doubt her and soon turn on her.
18. A person learns from a medical procedure that his parents could not possibly be his blood relatives.
19. Someone plants a bomb underneath the main character's car right before she loads her kids for school.
20. Ticking clock time deadline pressure added such as a bomb about to detonate or someone about to be executed.

What are some of your favorite plot twists? What are some of the most overused plot twist?

My Favorite Plot Twist in Movies:

Gone Girl
The Usual Suspects
Witness for the Prosecution
Primal Fear
Fight Club
No Way Out
The Crying Game

Favorite Plot Twists in Novels

The Kind Worth Killing by Peter Swanson  See Review of The Kind Worth Killing (*Warning Spoilers) I have a separate review without spoilers. {When does the movie come out} A kick ass book, with a kick ass plot twist.

In a Dark Dark Wood by Ruth Ware   ( My favorite book of 2015)

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

Tell No One by Harlan Coben (Still a favorite after all these years, probably my favorite Coben book)

The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins see my Amazon Review

Dangerous Girls by Abigail Haas (pseudonym), Abby McDonald (I went to great lengths to chase the chick down, had to learn her pseudonym) ... worth the read. This is more of a YA or maybe NA Thriller

Fingersmith by Sarah Waters

We Were Liars by E. Lockart ( This was good, but I wasn't in love with this book, not the way so many others were. I liked it. It had a twist ending, but it didn't blow me away or anything. It made my favorite list, but it was slow getting started and the pace was slower than I normally like. Not my absolute favorite.

The Turn of the Screw by Henry James

Code Name Verity. By Megan Whalen, a novel I’ve not had the pleasure of reading, but I keep hearing amazing things about this story and I’ve added it to the top of my TBR list. Have any of you read it?

So what are your favorite novels and/or movies with twist endings? I'd love to hear them, because I'd like to read or watch them. It's all homework you know.

1 comment:

Blogger said...

I have to recommend reading the book The Girl on the Train: A Novel.
I just finished reading it today, and my conclusion is that its a really good book to read.

I ordered mine off Amazon and I got it in just 2 days.
Here's a link for the book on Amazon:

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