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Author Topic: build up or sudden twists  (Read 160 times)

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Offline Shocker

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build up or sudden twists
« on: March 22, 2021, 02:45:38 PM »
I’d like to throw a question out there for my fellow authors and readers. How do you feel about twists, do they need to be earned through deliberate foreshadowing or di they work better if they come out of the blue?

I’m personally prejudiced towards the first school of thinking, as a reader I want to feel like an idiot not seeing something coming that was so skillfully prepared. Agatha Christie is doing this to me, every tine i read a novel of hers that i hadnt read before. On rereads, i then see those skillfully woven clues, and enjoy the book again for its masterful crafting.
And as much as i like a good twist, i really don’t like if they are telegraphed to obviously, or fall completely out if the blue. In my opinion, the reader should just have a sporting chance of catching the twist before it happens, but the best authors will keep it just out of your reach.

How do you feel about this, or is this kind of approach exceeding our little niches need of story crafting, after all there is allways “wham bam, thank you ma’am” for a plot.
« Last Edit: May 03, 2021, 11:28:13 AM by Shocker »

Offline CheerCaptain18

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Re: Uild up or sudden twists
« Reply #1 on: March 24, 2021, 12:35:49 AM »
Well,  I think stories should never follow a formula,  or else it will just become predictable.   I've enjoyed both styles,  and if the same author did both in various stories,  it will keep me on my toes.

Offline moriarty555

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Re: Uild up or sudden twists
« Reply #2 on: April 23, 2021, 05:03:15 PM »
As with so many things it depends on the specific story.

A mystery definitely should have at least a few clues about the twist. But a completely out of the blue twist can really be fun to read when it's well executed.

If it's lazy writing to get the author out of a spot they painted themselves into it's usually not going to work well. If you need a twist to save your plot then you might need to rethink your plot.

Offline death2uall

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Re: Uild up or sudden twists
« Reply #3 on: May 03, 2021, 11:25:41 AM »
Honestly, when I'm reading a novel I'm more interested in character development than clever plot twists, so I may be the wrong person to be giving an opinion on this. But like @CheerCaptain18 I've seen both methods used to good effect. In one of the literally best detective novels I've ever read (in fact, it's what got me reading mysteries), Eight Million Ways to Die, the plot twist appears completely out of a clear blue sky, but it makes no difference because the story really isn't about the murder; it's about the protagonist's struggle with alcoholism.
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Offline Corvid

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Re: build up or sudden twists
« Reply #4 on: Today at 01:09:34 AM »
Whether they're "out of the blue" or cunningly foreshadowed, plot twists need to make sense. There's little more frustrating than a plot twist that makes the reader go, "But, wait... If it was actually him all along, wouldn't he need to be in five places at once and have had two full changes of clothing on hand, one for an altercation that occurred in the woods and there's no way he could anticipate?"

Along those lines, I tend to agree that it's better to foreshadow a twist with caution. Much like comedy, I tend to feel this writing works best when the audience is just in step with the story-teller, or maybe half a step behind, so they get to feel clever when they get to the "punch line". But similarly, they can't be allowed to get ahead (at least on a first viewing), or they'll be spending their time feeling like the storyteller should get to the point and has probably rather insultingly misjudged their intelligence. (Terry Brooks' "Running With the Demon" comes to mind, with its cringe-inducing, "Nooooo! I can't tell you the truuuth! It's too awful..." refrain. {You actually mean that if you told us the truth we could resolve the plot several hundred pages earlier, and we figured it out long before your doofus of a main character anyway, thanks...})

A good twist should also make an interesting plot and characters take on new dimensions; it should rarely be the entire point of the thing. Twists usually require the audience to make some kind of leap when they occur. If the audience doesn't go along with it, either because the twist doesn't make sense or they were much more enamored with the story they thought they were reading before said twist took place, the whole thing can de-rail. Woe be to the author who challenges the audience's expectation to the point that they just refuse to go along for the ride.


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