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No Plot Twists Please

While writing short fiction these last few years, a few lessons spoke to me when it came to feedback from readers.  Crafting a good sentence and an excellent plot are all important parts of writing.  I’m better at the first and working on the latter.

However, nothing will cause a reader to put an otherwise good book down than a horrible plot twist.  As a rule, I say refrain from doing so when applicable, because a plot twist will usually do one of two things…

  • The reader will expect something based on the reading and then not receive it.
  • The reader will desire the plot twist, but because of the way the first half is written, will not follow to the end.

42-essential-third-act-plot-twistsCase in point, if you are writing a fantasy and it later turns out to be a science fiction; you run the very real risk of turning off the reader.  Otherwise, a science fiction reader may read the first few pages and put it down.  He may not read it at all.

I believe that plot twists in general should be avoided.  In all of my eBooks, the ones that received the highest reviews and the ones that people ended up holding onto were the stories that had a consistent theme.  Most of all, they honored the promise to the reader and that is the most important part.  When you read a book, it leads you in a direction very early on.  Readers expect to end up at that location by the end of the book and if they do not get there, they feel cheated.

TLDR: Build consistency.  Keep the promise the plot suggests.  Don’t make the reader feel cheated at the end of it.

plot-twist

4 thoughts on “No Plot Twists Please”

  1. I see what you’re saying, but I do love reading and writing plot twists. To me, a lot of books are predictable, and I like to be surprised.

    With that said, you’re right. It has to be a good plot twist and fit into the story. They’re risky because if one thing goes wrong with the twist, the entire book’s reputation is ruined.

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    1. Glad to hear your thoughts.

      From a reader’s standpoint, I think a good plot twist is one that I never see coming. However, once it does happen, I should be able to go back and cite the evidence. At least that’s one that worked well for me in the books I’ve read.

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  2. I’d love to be able to take your advice on this one. Guess this will be another “rule” that got tossed out the window. I’m not a plotter, though I do at least know where the story will end up at the end of which ever installment I’m currently working on. I’m along for the ride almost as much as the readers, and there are times when the plots manage to toss me off – usually into a prickly pare thicket.

    I tend to compare writing my current WIP series to green breaking a young horse, but there are times, when I wonder if I shouldn’t be trying to compare it to riding a snake. At least, the premise of the entire story doesn’t go skittering off on me, it just makes the unexpected turns. Though, it could also be because I tend to enjoy plots that actually make you think to keep up with them. Not exactly sure about that.

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  3. When I am writing, I attempt to stay true to the characters. I follow their lead and if they lead me in a direction I am not expecting, I still go in that direction. Sometimes, they totally surprise me ( and therefore possibly they will surprise my readers, too. )

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