Writing Plot Twists: Really Useful Links by Lucy O’Callaghan

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Lucy O'Callaghan

Lucy O’Callaghan

The last thing a writer wants a reader to say is that they knew what was going to happen in the story. Readers don’t want to be able to work out what is coming next, they might think they are working it out but really, they want to be surprised. This is why we use plot twists in our stories. A plot twist is a development in a story that the reader isn’t expecting. Something shocking may happen or be revealed. This change doesn’t follow in the way the writer might have suggested earlier in the story.

R.L. Stine said ‘Every story ever told can be broken down into three parts. The beginning. The middle. And the plot twist.’

When plot twists are done well, your reader will be hooked. They won’t forget them. But, if it’s not done well, a reader can be left feeling cheated and let down. So, how do we write brilliant plot twists? I have put together some articles and YouTube videos that I think are helpful.

  1. 5 Tips for Writing a Killer Plot Twist: Types, Examples, and Techniques – 2023 – MasterClass

Readers want plot twists as a reward for reading further. Plot twists are changes in their novel that subvert expectations. When properly executed they surprise the reader and enhance their engagement. Masterclass discusses some common plot twists and shares examples in both literature and film. The article goes on to share 5 tips for writing a good plot twist, including killing off a seemingly important character, letting your character discover a plot twist organically, and elevating a minor character.

  1. 10 Simple Tips For Writing Clever Plot Twists – Writer’s Edit (writersedit.com)

It can be difficult to come up with new and innovative ways of subverting readers’ expectations. Writers Edit shares 10 simple tips to help you. Put yourself into the readers’ shoes, note down what twists come to mind, and discard them all. Try to do something different, the complete opposite. Use subtle misdirections and even subtler foreshadowing. Let your characters create the plot twists but you must make sure your twists are believable and necessary and that they make sense. Create a subplot that means more than readers think. Another important tip is to let beta readers read your novel and let them tell you what they think of your plot twists.

  1. 70+ Plot Twist Ideas and Examples To Blow Your Readers Away (reedsy.com)

The plot twist is a staple in almost every genre and medium of storytelling. They are fun to read but hard to write. Reedsy shares over 50 plot twist ideas from film and literature and also shares some hypothetical scenarios to jumpstart your thinking and encourage you to write your own.

  1. Plot Twist Ideas: 7 Examples and Tips for Twists | Now Novel

This article from Now Novel tells us a good plot twist adds intrigue, suspense, or surprise to a novel. Seven examples of effective plot twists and what they can teach us are shared. Some of the tips they share include plumbng your themes for relevant plot twist ideas, don’t give your twist away too early, making setting an active part of the twist, using plot twists to increase antagonist power, and to shift suspicion. These are only a few of the tips demonstrated by examples from literature and film in this article.

  1. The Secret To Writing A Great Plot Twist – Writers Write

A plot twist can be clever, revealing or shocking, or all three. This article from Writers Write tells us the secret to writing a great plot twist is to use misdirection, subtle foreshadowing, and make it believable. The reader doesn’t want to feel duped. The plot twist must be realistic enough for the reader to accept the twist. Writers Write shares three popular plot twists you could use in your story including, family secrets, the character is their own worst enemy, unreliable narrators, first impressions can be wrong, and the expected happens to somebody else. It also shares exercises for you to try.

  1. ‎Fiction Writing Made Easy: Red Herrings: How to Mislead and Surprise Readers on Apple Podcasts

Savannah Gilbao explains red herrings and how to use them effectively in plot twists.

  1. S6E9 – Writing Plot Twists – Writing Roots (writingrootspodcast.com)

Stephen Graham says great plot twists always deepen not cheapen a story. Here 3 reactions to plot twists are discussed: no way, uh nice, and oh yeah, and how to get these reactions.


In this YouTube video, Abbie Eammons talks about the psychology behind the elusive plot twist and how to make this pivotal moment matter to your characters.

This video by Fiction Technician, Jane Kalmes, discusses examining the assumptions your readers may have and how to feed them false ones. How to make plot twists that pack an emotional punch and how to brainstorm for ideas.

Thinking your plot twists through is key. List your ideas and then do something totally unpredictable to make your plot twists go in a completely different direction. But make sure they are believable. I hope you have found this week’s column useful. As always, if there are any topics you would like me to cover then please get in touch.

(c) Lucy O’Callaghan

Instagram: lucy.ocallaghan.31.

Facebook: @LucyCOCallaghan

Twitter: @LucyCOCallaghan

About the author

Writing since she was a child, Lucy penned her first story with her father called Arthur’s Arm, at the ripe old age of eight. She has been writing ever since. Inspired by her father’s love of the written word and her mother’s encouragement through a constant supply of wonderful stationary, she wrote short stories for her young children, which they subsequently illustrated.
A self-confessed people watcher, stories that happen to real people have always fascinated her and this motivated her move to writing contemporary women’s fiction. Her writing has been described as pacy, human, moving and very real.
Lucy has been part of a local writing group for over ten years and has taken creative writing classes with Paul McVeigh, Jamie O’Connell and Curtis Brown Creative. She truly found her tribe when she joined Writer’s Ink in May 2020. Experienced in beta reading and critiquing, she is currently editing and polishing her debut novel.
Follow her on Instagram: lucy.ocallaghan.31. Facebook and Twitter: @LucyCOCallaghan

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