Story Writing Tips - Give Your Plot a Twist
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Their car breaks down on a lonely country road. Your character takes out her cell phone to call for help. No reception (of course). She and her husband get out of the car and look around. Nothing in sight except for a decrepit old farmhouse with peeling paint and weeds growing up around it. "Let's see if there's anyone home," your character says.
"I don't know," her husband says. "I have a bad feeling about the place."
As they dither, there is a crack of lightning, and rain starts to pour down. Your character grabs an umbrella from the car and runs up to the farmhouse. She rings the doorbell and waits. No one comes. Then she sees that the door is ajar. She pushes it open and steps into the blackness of the hallway...
Do you think you know where this scene is headed? Your character's husband does, and he isn't happy about it!
But what if the story takes an unexpected turn? Maybe what the character finds in that house is not sinister or scary? What if she finds something surprising and wonderful?
Or imagine the beginning of a different story. A woman's eyes meet the eyes of an attractive stranger across a room. She looks away, then her gaze is pulled back again...
Imagine a story that begins with a street gang cornering a little old lady in an alley...
It might seem obvious where these scenes are headed. But wouldn't it be fun if they took an unexpected turn?
So, here's a game you can play for your own pleasure, and your reader's. If your scene feels a bit obvious or clichéd; if events are progressing mechanically along a clear path: give that path a twist.
The lovers in the scene turn out not to be lovers at all, but spies secretly exchanging information.
The little old lady in the alley has intentionally lured the street gang there for purposes of her own...
The apparent hero turns out to be a villain. The apparent villain turns out to be not so bad.
As you're writing the story, you can try to surprise yourself.
Here's a fun exercise. Start with a story idea, and write until you're ready to take a break. When you return from your break, the same day or a different day, ask yourself where the story seems to be headed. Then see if you can come up with a more interesting path.
Photo credit: Andre Guerra @ Unsplash
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