The best works take off from using story ideas with a twist.
Plot twists make a reader or an audience tell their friends and family about the story they just read, and it’s what the reader usually remembers best about the story.
If you are a writer, plot twist ideas are invaluable.
This article will help you develop plot twist ideas by providing examples and suggestions for some great plot twist ideas.
What is a Plot Twist?
A plot twist usually involves the main character that the reader didn’t see coming.
That twist shocks the readers; the event that happens turns everything on its head and makes the audience stop trusting their gut and intuitions about the story.
The plot twist exists in almost every genre.
It’s the romance between the main character and the perfect man or woman, only to end with the protagonist waking up to realize it was all a dream and none of what the reader just spent hours reading ever really happened.
We see plot twists in every form of literature and movies.
The bigger the shock value, the more memorable and speculative the reaction is.
A good plot twist gets the reader or viewer thinking and talking about how it took place, how they could have seen it coming, or where it could go from the point of the plot twist.
Everyone Loves Plot Twists
Like any group of middle school students, they were shocked when they heard “On your left” in Captain America’s earpiece in Avengers: Endgame.
This and other twist examples are so memorable that they cement themselves to our memories and make us feel something.
You most likely have your own stories of times you have reacted, sometimes physically, even, to plot twists in books and film.
Whether it was a romantic twist, an alternate reality twist (think Inception), or a thrill that brings a whole theater to tears (think Endgame), we can all think of times that specific story ideas with a twist moved us.
Best Plot Twist
The best story ideas with a twist are those you never see coming.
You’re so distracted with the plot that you miss those little clues that may get hints that something is coming you’ll never expect.
As a writer, it can be challenging to come up with short story ideas and novel ideas that include a surprise twist.
You don’t want to make it too obvious, so the reader figures it out before you get there.
You only want to drop tiny hints masked by other, seemingly more significant points to the main plot.
Writing prompts are great ways to get your short story or novel going.
They can help boost your creativity, help you devise ways to set up a scene or story and force you to think outside the box.
Plot twists require a certain level of finesse and tricky writing, and prompts can help to get you into that practice.
The following are examples of writing prompts you can use to help you develop story ideas with a twist.
- Write a short story idea about a birthday wish made by a child that goes haywire. Maybe he wishes for no rules because he always gets into trouble. He makes the wish, thinks nothing more of it, and then wakes up the following day to find that all the adults are gone. You can’t get into trouble or be disciplined as a child if there are no more adults.
- Write a short story about an alien race that mankind is told is threatening the safety of Earth. The military is begging for recruits, the draft is reinstated, and people worldwide are expected to volunteer to help “secure the planet” against the invaders. However, it’s later revealed that the alien race is only trying to make contact to warn mankind about imminent doom due to their own mistakes. The government knows and is trying to kill them before they can tell society the truth.
- Write a short story about a video game that plans and runs a person’s life, much like the SIMS games. Only in this game do the things that you make the avatars do happen to people in a remote country, and it’s all an experiment being conducted by twisted scientists about the cruelty and depravity of the average person.
- Write a short story about a magical book that makes the things written in it come true. The book’s owner has unlimited power until it’s revealed that for each item that the writer manifests, the equal opposite is done to someone else that the writer knows.
Best Twist Endings
What makes a delicious twist is a reaction that it solicits from the reader or viewer.
Most people can remember their reaction when they first saw Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back, when they learned, along with Luke Skywalker, that Darth Vader is Luke’s father.
The anguish that Luke experiences. The moral dilemma. The tension. It’s hard to forget.
It’s the different ending to the story that we didn’t think would occur. The protagonist thought he was doing something great to help or win the fight, but he was only helping out the bad guy.
The best twists are also the ones that are simple yet big.
Middle schoolers should be able to understand what’s going on, and you shouldn’t have to do too much critical thinking, research, or have long debates and discussions to figure out what happened to a character, why the protagonist did what they did, or what the real reason was behind the twist.
How to Write a Plot Twist
All this talk about how stories can be immediately elevated with an unexpected twist. But how do you write one?
We’d all love to create stories as shocking as Gone Girl, where we come to an end and discover that the protagonist has hoodwinked us all.
We’d all like to write a story that ends with the hero’s life being shattered because of some pivotal and unexpected change that no one saw coming until it was happening right in front of the readers.
1. In the Beginning
Begin your story normally, but if you are planning a twist of a character like you repeatedly see in Harry Potter (the bad guy isn’t the bad guy, the good guy is), then you can be somewhat vague in the backstory.
Make the character you’re twisting either pleasant and appealing if you’re going to make him a villain later on or lightly vilify the character if you’re going to make him the hero later on.
Lead the readers down the wrong path from the very beginning. You want the readers to care about all the characters, but make them care about this particular character for the wrong reasons.
Make them scrunch their nose when you get to that twist and say, “Oh man! I was rooting for that guy!” (No one saw Snape being the hero he ended up being).
You can also downplay a character who will later become a significant part of the story.
Keep in mind that very few readers saw it coming that Neville Longbottom would be the savior of Hogwarts.
2. Stop Halfway Through
If you knew from the beginning what the big surprise plot point or element would be, it’s a good idea to stop halfway through and make sure that you’re still on course to deliver in a big way.
Have you made it too obvious that the villain isn’t really leading a life of crime but is a humanitarian simply trying to save his dying daughter?
Have you made it too plain that the hero will fall for the villain and turn to a life of crime for the sake of love?
If you are stuck in a rut and don’t know how to create that “whoa” moment for your audience, the midway point is an excellent stop to evaluate where you can take the story.
3. Ask “What If?”
If you find that you are stuck in your story regarding surprising your readers and don’t know what direction you can go in, write until you’re about halfway through and then stop.
At this point, ask five “What if?” questions concerning your plot, setting, hero, and villain. They can be simple or complex.
You need to come up with that one thing that will turn the story on its head and get the response from the reader you want. Some examples are noted below:
- What if the house the murders are taking place in is the childhood home of the investigator, and he’s not said anything because he doesn’t want to get dropped from the case?
- What if the house isn’t really haunted, and the moaning heard in the middle of the night isn’t coming from there but from the cellar of the house next door, from some very alive captives?
- What if the “friend” of the hero is the lover of the villain, sent to undo the hero?
- What if the dead body washed up on the shore isn’t a stranger but the hero’s childhood friend?
- What if the characters in the story know the narrator, and it finally gets revealed when the narrator decides to disclose it to the world by giving away a murder plot before it happens?
These are reasonable and somewhat creative writing ideas for the world you’re creating.
You want to reveal the truth or let the readers discover the actual plot when they are at their most unguarded and vulnerable.
That is the point of the story in which the revealed dream, creative plot, or unexpected hero will emerge and get the most bang for their buck.
Requirements for Writing Twists
There are only three major requirements for pulling off a story that contains a good twist. It is always a good idea to ask a friend to read your story after you finish to see if they saw the end coming.
- Make it shocking
- Make it believable, or at least possible
- Make the rest of the story support the twist
Writers want to shock the world with the surprise that the boy who likes to play with the other kids is part of a ring of villains set on stealing exceptional children away from their families and selling them.
But getting to that point is tricky.
The reality these writers have on their side is that humans tend to believe what they are told.
Convince the reader that they should trust you, and you can create a fun story with twists and turns that they’ll never see coming.