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.
Case 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.