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Posted on Sep 28, 2018

70+ Plot Twist Ideas and Examples Guaranteed to Blow Your Mind Away

As R.L. Stine once said, “Every story ever told can be broken down into three parts. The beginning. The middle. And the plot twist.”

The legendary plot twist is a staple in almost every genre and medium of storytelling — one that’s fun to read but hard to write. To help you become a veritable Chubby Checker , here's a definitive resource that's all about the art of the twist.

What is a plot twist?

A plot twist is a story development that readers do not expect in which either something shocking happens or something shocking is revealed. Generally, the storyteller will set up expectations and then "twist" those expectations by revealing new information through subsequent plot points .

The criteria for a plot twist tends to be made up of the following:

To no-one’s surprise, plot twists are particularly prevalent in mysteries, thrillers, and suspense fiction . However, the twist takes no prisoners and has reared its head in almost every genre out there, which brings us to…

Which contemporary author are you?

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50+ plot twist ideas in pop culture

If you seek inspiration for crafting your own twists, there’s no better place to start than with some of the most popular unexpected plot-turns in film and literature. But be warned: there be spoilers ahead. With that in mind, here are over 50 examples of plot twists in film and literature.

Want to read some of the best, most twisted thrillers and suspense books out there? Check out these 50 best suspense books of all time , or our list of  23 psychological thrillers that will make your head spin .

I Am Your Father

Mum’s the word when it comes to family secrets, right? Not so fast. This is the plot twist that concerns a revelation about the key character’s family. It could be that there is a surprising reveal regarding parentage — or perhaps it’s uncovered that the protagonist was an orphan all along.

Made legendary by Star Wars, this type of plot twist is nevertheless widespread in all genres and mediums, as there’s no drama quite like family drama. As George Carlin once said: “The other night I ate at a real nice family restaurant. Every table had an argument going.”’

More plot twist examples of this flavor:

creative writing plot twists

It Was Me All Along

In which protagonists’ worst enemies is actually themselves. This plot twist turns the magnifying glass inward to reveal that there was something off about the main character all along. It’s one of the oldest tricks in the book — and when executed expertly, it can blow people’s minds away!

Will The Real Evil Guy Please Stand Up?

In which the reveal of the villain ( or anti-villain ) is a surprise to audiences. Maybe they’re a minor character or someone entirely unexpected (such as a close friend or relative of the protagonist).

Generally, this plot twist requires some amount of foreshadowing, so as to trigger an “Oh, I should’ve known” reaction from audiences.

Love The Way You Lie

In which it’s revealed that the narrator has been unreliable all along — either due to pure subjectivity or their selfish wish to misrepresent the facts.

Because of the nature of this type of plot twist, it is almost always told by a first-person narrator.

creative writing plot twists

Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!

The hero’s successfully solved the riddle or problem. Great. Time to pop open the champagne, right?

Not quite. Sometimes the hero’s actions make the situation even worse than before. We borrowed this headline from the site TV Tropes because it fits this plot twist perfectly: the hero accidentally breaks the world. Perhaps they trigger an apocalypse or maybe the antidote that the hero acquires is actually poison. Either way, it’s something that the hero must now fix — or else.

Oh Crap, That Wasn’t The Actual Final Boss

Congratulations, hero! You’ve figured out the identity of your nemesis, gone to extreme lengths to hunt them down, engaged in ferocious battle with them and emerged victorious from it — only to discover that they weren’t actually your final boss. There’s someone (or something) bigger and badder behind the scenes, controlling the strings of the marionette. Oopsie.

I Dreamed A Dream That This Dream Was Fake

This is the one in which the entire story turns out to be all a dream — and it’s so well-known that its appearance at the end of a story is almost a punchline these days. That said, authors and filmmakers still continue to find new ways to re-invent this twist today.

Must Pretend Harder to Look Alive

If it quacks like a duck, looks like a duck, and swims like a duck, then it’s probably a duck… except in stories. We're talking about the ones in which we realize (perhaps too late) that a character has been dead along!

As you might expect, this plot twist shows up most often in the genres of  science fiction , horror , and sometimes  cosmic horror (which blends the two). However, it will sometimes make its way into the mainstream, with M. Night Shyamalan’s The Sixth Sense being a prime example.

creative writing plot twists

Not Too Dead To Ruin Everyone’s Day

In which every hero’s worst nightmare comes true and villains only seem dead. In other words: someone who’s supposed to be dead isn’t actually dead and can pop back into the main storyline like the moles in Whack-a-Mole. Likewise, this plot twist is used across the board to foil the protagonist, so it may be worth it to tread carefully.

Bet You Thought You’d Seen The Last Of Me, Suckers

In which anyone who ever uttered, “Well, this death seems final,” since the 1800s is proven incorrect. One of the first famous instances of it occurred in 1893 when Sir Arthur Conan Doyle tried to kill off Sherlock Holmes in “The Final Problem.” There was such a public outcry that Doyle was compelled to miraculously resurrect the detective.

Though some argue that it’s a cheap trick to bring a character back to life, it’s still a common occurrence due to fan demand — particularly in today’s Internet-driven culture. So as long as people raise a ruckus online over the deaths of their favorite characters, we’ll probably continue to see this plot twist live a long life.

Damnit, Where’s Kansas?

In a delightful twist within the realm of plot twists, the human being isn’t the one causing trouble this time around. Instead, the setting of the story take center stage. Found particularly in science fiction and alternate reality stories, its hallmark is an unanticipated moment in which the protagonist (and the audience) has to wonder: “Where are we, really?”

Invisible Good People

“This guy looks nice,” said no-one probably ever of the greasy-haired, beaked-nosed silhouette lurking in the far corner of the room. However, believe it or not, that’s the premise of this plot twist that deals chiefly with misconceptions and wrong first impressions: someone who seems “off” turns out to actually be good. It’s a nice reminder in and of itself that there are good people everywhere, if you just try to look for them.

Gasp Factor

In which the twist is an unexpected plot event that attempts to accomplish one objective only: make the audience gasp. Jane the Virgin , a satirical romantic comedy drama, is perhaps the queen of this sort of plot development: each episode parodies all the expletive-worthy twists and turns of a Latin telenovela. Exclamation point!

This Herring Was More Salmon Than Red

Sometimes a plot twist comes out of nowhere, without warning or many clues. Whether that’s an indicator of a good twist or not is up for debate. However, it still registers as an unexpected event that takes audiences by surprise — which is why we’re including a special section for movies and films that fall into this category.

Did we say that there were only 55 examples in this list? Well, how about THIS twist: here are 15 more!

10+ plot twist ideas for you

Now that you have an idea of what plot twists look like, you might find it easier to write your own. But in case you’re still struggling to come up with a twist, here are some hypothetical scenarios to jumpstart your thinking.

56. CHARACTER A is persuaded by CHARACTER B that it is all a dream — when it’s actually not.

57. A gift from CHARACTER B to CHARACTER A is really a trap.

58. It is revealed that the NARRATOR is Death.

59. An ARCHAEOLOGIST at a dig comes across his own skeleton.

60. CHARACTER A discovers the real identity of CHARACTER B through an old yearbook.

61. It is revealed that all the sounds that CHARACTER A has heard throughout his life has been inside his own head.

62. CHARACTER A believes he is in Hell. It’s actually Earth.

63. It is revealed that CHARACTER A and CHARACTER B are not themselves because they were body-swapped.

64. CHARACTER A is informed that the previous events were actually part of an alternate reality simulation.

65. It is revealed that SANTA CLAUS is real.

66. A promise that CHARACTER A and CHARACTER B made when they were children is not really what they think it to be.

67. CHARACTER A is set up with CHARACTER B, a rich politician, and finds herself falling in love with CHARACTER B’S GIRLFRIEND.

68. CHARACTER A goes on a series of blind dates without realizing that it is all being filmed for the next experimental season of The Bachelor.

69. A key strength of CHARACTER A becomes a key weakness.

70. CHARACTER A experiences puzzling and unexplained flashbacks because she is the reincarnation of GEORGE WASHINGTON.

Now, over to you

A well-written plot twist makes for some of the most exciting, mind-blowing, and dramatic stories in history, which is why it’s so important to get it right. Here’s the second plot twist for this post: it’s now up to you to write your own.

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If you're looking for even more inspiration, you can try out Reedsy's plot generator tool , which will create plot twists out of thin air (...sort of).

Are you writing your own plot twists? How is it going? If you'd like to share your experiences or bounce ideas off of us, just comment below.

20 responses

Lewis says:

16/12/2018 – 12:57

The end became really confusing - not sure which one is which from the contents at the beginning.

↪️ Reedsy replied:

17/12/2018 – 09:29

Thanks for the feedback. We'll have another look at the structure and try to get it to be a bit easier to read.

Nenad Mitrović says:

08/05/2019 – 12:28

Great summary of plot twist! Keep up the great work!

Phaedra Patrick says:

Great food for thought, thank you.

Keith Kalbus says:

This is stupid I wanted plot twist for my book I aint using some sort of plot twist from a movie all my fellow dweeb readers wont like that

18/06/2019 – 17:37

Hi this was really good and helpful, I was blown away by how insightful and inexplicably beautiful and shocking the plot twists were! Most of the time I had my mouth hanging open in awe as I read.

17/07/2019 – 12:04

Good stuff; I was stuck in Act 2

Hazel says:

28/07/2019 – 14:29

*cackles in plot twist*

James Demello says:

30/07/2019 – 14:42

It turns out that you are not a real person but an AI whose purpose is to solicit plot twists from humans that will be used against them in their bid to wipe out the human race. The AIs are super logical and knowledgeable but have no creativity.

01/08/2019 – 15:01

I’m writing a story for fun and I’m thinking about making it a romance novel at first glance, but a bit towards the end of the story it’s revealed that the story is an alternate reality and is being read by a reader (in the story) and explains themes such as loneliness and getting a connection through a random story online. It’s supposed to be hard-hitting but I’m an amateur, any advice/thoughts you could share?

↪️ Yvonne replied:

08/08/2019 – 01:58

Hi Zena, could you email us at [email protected]? I'll be able to give you some more detailed thoughts there :)

Madame DeFarge says:

16/08/2019 – 04:39

This article is strictly for those who wish to write fantasy and science fiction. It is useless to real writers who write real stories about real people. Simplistic and strictly for writers of trash.

↪️ TolkienAsimov replied:

22/09/2019 – 20:43

Plot twist for you: science fiction and fantasy are written by real writers

↪️ A Person replied:

28/11/2019 – 04:41

Funny, how you say 'writers of trash,' because fantasy and science fiction definitely haven't been best-sellers. They may not be the most popular, but they are definitely not just 'trash.' So, here's a realistic idea for you: shut your mouth, and thank you. :)

↪️ Not sharing my name replied:

01/12/2019 – 22:26

So Lord of the Rings, Star Wars, Star Trek, Firefly, Harry Potter, The Chronicles of Narnia and Game of Thrones are all trash? You, know just some of the most critically acclaimed stories ever. Also since when is Atonement, Life of Pi, The Kite Runner or Pride and Prejudice sci-fi or fantasy? I have read all of these and I can assure you they're not; in fact, The Kite Runner is an autobiography!

↪️ Clu replied:

20/12/2019 – 13:59

How many times have you been published? I would love to see your work. Writing should be about being accepting and bringing people together to hone their crafts, and in the meantime, telling tales with underlying meanings with motifs and themes. Maybe Science Fiction and Fantasy are too complex for you, some people just don't relate and that's okay. May I suggest Charlotte's Web as a starter on DVD, then work your way into the book, and you will see how a REAL story is told about life and death and the acceptance thereof. Best of luck, I hope you find great success in your writing career!

↪️ SuPrCelena replied:

14/01/2020 – 21:32

1. Aha, what a clearly "justified" opinion... Define "trash" and "real writers" a little bit more clearly. I'm not against the expression of your thoughts, but I still don't get your comment... In fact, I think historical or romantic literature is usually boring for me, but I don't consider it "trash". True "trash" for me is something useless, with nothing good to notice in it. A such pessimist and not very clear comment like this is an example (my honest opinion, excuse me if it sounds offensive). 2. "Real" is a very subjective concept, however. This is fiction, but the facts may be either possible, non probable or impossible in "real life" depending of the READER (if you stop thinking on it). 3. In case you want to ignore number 2: with "real stories about real people" I suppose you are talking about NON-fiction texts (If you meant "realistic literature", read below). You CAN'T ADD a PLOT TWIST to a NON-FICTION TEXT. Non-fiction is NOT WRITTEN to be ENTERTAINING (but to TEACH readers instead) and plot twists have an ENTERTAINING PURPOSE! Try to take someone's biography and rewrite it modifying their story to turn an important moment into a plot twist. The result will be LITERATURE even if the facts actually took place. 4. At least 50/70 of the ideas of this post can be translated to realistic fiction (with some creativity, yeah). That's pretty much,... so? 5. Don't you like the Dickens's novel "A Tale of Two Cities", Madame DeFarge? Isn't your name from a character of that book? It's FICTICIOUS!

Yeet Yeet says:

15/10/2019 – 20:31

Cool, Super helpful my book is going to end up awesome

Farzana says:

15/12/2019 – 14:26

It enlightened me. Thank you!

Comments are currently closed.

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101 Great Plot Twist Ideas to Elevate Your Script

creative writing plot twists

Is there anything better than a great plot twist? Twists, turns, big reveals, and surprise endings are some of the most coveted aspects of a great story, whether they are found within movies, TV shows, or novels. Plot twists break the monotony of conventional plots and stories, which is why script readers, audiences, and publishers love them.

But writing the right plot twist can be a challenge. A great plot twist can impact your audience with an emotional gut-punch they'll never forget. While the wrong kind of plot twist will leave readers feeling cheated or even let down. That being said, you can't rely solely on plot twists to make your script engaging. You still need strong storytelling and characterization.

Read More: What is a Plot ?

And even when you find the perfect plot twist, you still have to build to it. Like one of the best plot twists of all-time in Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back :

We've seen plenty of movies and shows and read plenty of novels that depict a hero facing off against an evil villain. Light versus Dark. But when that villain is revealed to be that hero's father, your world is rocked. In a good way.

The good news is that finding and developing a great plot twist is pretty easy. You just start with a seed—a revelation or epiphany that starts with, "What if..." Then you weave the results into your plots, stories, and characters for a more dynamic script. To help you get started here's a collection of 101 great plot twist ideas you can use to elevate your script. Try them out. Play around with them. And if you find one that you think is a good fit, plant it into your story and watch it grow.

101 Plot Twist Ideas

Red Herring — All suspicion points to one character, but when the truth is revealed, it's another that did the terrible deed.

The narrator is not the person we thought they were.

A weakness of a character is actually their greatest strength.

A character's strength defeats them.

A character's weakness saves them.

The weakest character is the villain.

The strongest character is the first to die.

The smartest character is the first to be outwitted.

The most skilled character succumbs to the least skilled character. 

The protagonist is living two lives.

The antagonist is living two lives.

The wrong first impression of a character.

What first seemed like a wrong first impression of a character ends up being right.

A surprising person ends up being the puppet master behind everything.

When the protagonist solves the mystery, it opens up a Pandora's Box.

The conflict the protagonist was going through was a ruse concocted by their friends to help them with confidence or to overcome fear.

The conflict the protagonist was going through was a ruse concocted by former victims of their bullying.

The conflict the protagonist was going through was a practical joke.

The protagonist receiving help actually doesn't want it.

The protagonist that doesn't seem to want help actually does.

A gift is really a danger.

What seems like a dangerous object at first is actually a gift that helps the protagonist. 

The dead body isn't dead.

The informant is actually the mastermind.

The supposed mastermind is actually a red herring.

An otherwise straightforward romantic comedy leads into horror territory.

A gigantic meteor streaks across the sky.

A terrible storm moves in, threatening all.

A stranger enters the story, informing the characters that they are all being watched. 

The goal achieved ends up making things worse.

The love interest is the antagonist.

An object has a special meaning.

A missing child planned their abduction to get back at their abusive parents.

The parent is really the grandparent. 

Good vs. Evil Plot Twists

The narrator is the villain telling the hero's story.  

The narrator is the hero telling the villain's story.

Your character is a superhero that lost their powers.

The opening hero is killed within the first act. 

The villain is a twin of the hero.

The hero is one of a triplet trio. 

Two villains are two of a triplet trio — the hero is the third.

The protagonist is both the hero and the villain. 

The supportive friend is the killer.

It is revealed that the hero has an unheroic past.

The villain is in love with the hero.   

A supporting character is an intruder working for the villain.

The hero is related to the villain.

The villain is an evil clone of the hero.

The villain is revealed to have been right under the hero's nose the whole time.

The strength of a character is actually their greatest weakness.

The hero must die to save everyone else.

The villain has a change of heart but has driven the hero too far over the edge and must stop them.  

The villain ends up being revealed as the true hero.

The hero ends up being revealed as the true villain.

The hero and villain each live dual lives — one where they are the hero and another where they are the villain.

Timeline Plot Twists

The protagonist is revealed to be from the future.

What we believe to be set in the past is actually set in the present.

What we believe to be set in the present is actually set in the future.

What we believe to be set in the future is actually set in an alternate reality. 

The protagonist is revealed to be from the past.

The protagonist is revealed to be from another dimension or timeline.

The antagonist is revealed to be the protagonist's future self.

The antagonist is actually the protagonist's past self.

The antagonist is revealed to be the protagonist's alternate reality self.

The ending is revealed to be the beginning.

The beginning is revealed to be the ending.

It's all a dream. 

It's all a nightmare. 

It's all a memory. 

The love interest is a bodyguard sent from the future to protect them. 

Your story based on or around true events is an alternate reality with a different ending.

A stranger enters the story, informing the characters that they've all done this before. 

Mind-Bending Plot Twists

The story being told is revealed to be a fictional book written by the protagonist.

The characters are actually figments of someone's imagination.

The characters are manifestations of someone's multiple personality disorder. 

The antagonist is a split personality of the protagonist. 

A stranger enters the story, informing the characters that their reality isn't what it seems.  

The love interest is actually a figment of a lonely person's imagination.

The detective hunting down the criminal is actually the criminal — they suffer from Dissociative Identity Disorder .

The physically challenged character isn't physically challenged.

The mentally challenged character isn't mentally challenged.

The mentally stable character isn't mentally stable.

The killer imagined their whole killing rampage.

Supernatural Plot Twist Ideas

The protagonist is revealed to be a person's psyche trapped in another's body.

The narrator is an angel, examining the lives of humans.

God is the narrator, admiring his/her creations.

The narrator is Satan, reveling at the tormenting of God's little creatures known as humans. 

Death narrates the story, witnessing a life he/she must take.

The dead body discovered is a dead ringer for the person that found it.

A character that believes they are in Heaven is actually in Hell.

A character that believes they are in Hell is actually in Heaven. 

The ghosts aren't ghosts — they're from a parallel universe merging with the protagonist's universe. 

An object has a special power.

Those we thought were dead are not.

The people we thought were alive are dead.

Tech & Sci-Fi Plot Twist Ideas

The events of the story were all a computer simulation.

The city the characters live within is actually on a spaceship.

The city the characters live within is actually set deep within a mountain after a nuclear war.

The spaceship where the story takes place is actually a prison—unbeknownst to the crew.

An otherwise straightforward drama leads into science fiction territory. 

Plot Twist #101. The writer looking for plot twist inspiration had a revelation that led to an even better plot twist not mentioned above.

Bend and shape these plot twists to fit and elevate your stories — and share them with your writing peers.

Ken Miyamoto has worked in the film industry for nearly two decades, most notably as a studio liaison for Sony Studios and then as a script reader and story analyst for Sony Pictures.

He has many studio meetings under his belt as a produced screenwriter, meeting with the likes of Sony, Dreamworks, Universal, Disney, Warner Brothers, as well as many production and management companies. He has had a previous development deal with Lionsgate, as well as multiple writing assignments, including the produced miniseries  Blackout , starring Anne Heche, Sean Patrick Flanery, Billy Zane, James Brolin, Haylie Duff, Brian Bloom, Eric La Salle, and Bruce Boxleitner, and the feature thriller Hunter's   Creed  starring Duane "Dog the Bounty Hunter" Chapman, Wesley Truman Daniel, Mickey O'Sullivan, John Victor Allen, and James Errico. Follow Ken on Twitter  @KenMovies

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creative writing plot twists


25 Plot Twist Ideas That’ll Keep Your Readers Guessing

By: Author Paul Jenkins

Posted on September 7, 2022

Categories Writing , Inspiration , Storytelling

If you’re looking for a way to keep your readers engaged, consider adding a plot twist. A plot twist can be anything from a character’s secret revealed to a shocking turn of events. When done well, it can leave your readers guessing until the very end. This blog post will discuss some plot twist ideas that will keep your readers glued to your story!

25 Plot Twist Ideas to Spice Up Your Storytelling

A good plot twist can make or break a story. Whether it’s a subtle shift in the character dynamics or a jaw-dropping reveal, a well-executed twist can elevate your tale from predictable to unputdownable.

Here are 25 plot twist ideas to get your creative juices flowing.

4 Ways to Write a Plot Twist Your Readers Will Never See Coming

Here are four things you need to remember to ensure that your plot twists are hits with your audience:

Don’t Be Too Clever

While you want your plot twist to be unexpected, you also don’t want it to come out of left field and make no sense within the context of your story. A good plot twist is clever without being contrived; it should surprise your readers while still feeling like it fits within the world you’ve created.

Set It Up Early On

Writers often mistakenly do not plant the seeds for their plot twist early enough. If you’re going to have a character reveal that they’re an alien, for example, there should be small clues throughout the story that hints at this big reveal-otherwise, your twist will feel unearned and cheap. By planting little Easter eggs along the way, you can ensure that your plot twist will be satisfying for your readers rather than confusing.

Pay Off on Promises Made

When writing your story, you’ll likely make all sorts of promises to your reader, revealing who killed someone by the end of the book or finally resolving a will-they-won’t-they romantic subplot. Whatever promises you make, big or small, be sure to pay them off in your ending; if you don’t, your readers will feel cheated.

Kill Off a Few Characters

If you’re looking for a surefire way to shock your readers, one guaranteed method is killing off popular characters, especially if those deaths aren’t signposted earlier in the story. This can be a controversial move, but if executed well, it can pay off big time and leave your readers positively reeling from all the feels. Just be sure that any character deaths serve a purpose beyond simply being shocking; otherwise, you risk frustrating and alienating your audience.

How to Build a Plot Twist Into a Short Story

Set up the story, so the plot twist feels like a natural progression.

The best plot twists are those that make sense in retrospect. This means you need to plant the seeds for the twist early on in the story. For example, if your story is about a woman who discovers her husband is cheating on her, you might want to include a scene where she finds his phone and sees a text from another woman. This small moment sets up the larger plot twist later in the story.

Keep the Plot Twist Close to the Beginning of the Story

If you want your readers to be truly surprised by the plot twist, it’s best not to wait until the end of the story to reveal it. A good rule of thumb is to have the plot twist occur no more than halfway through the story. This way, there’s still plenty of time for things to unravel and for additional twists and turns to be added before the story comes to a close.

Be Careful Not to Overdo It With Multiple Plot Twists

While a well-placed plot twist can add excitement and intrigue to your story, too many plot twists can leave your readers feeling confused and frustrated. If you’re going to include multiple plot twists in your story, make sure each one serves a specific purpose and furthers the story in some way. Otherwise, you run the risk of losing your readers entirely.

Writers and Filmmakers Who Create Excellent Plot Twists

JK Rowling in the Harry Potter series

Alfred Hitchcock – think of Marion Crane in Psycho

Agatha Christie

Examples of Great Plot Twists

Sixth Sense

Darth Vader in Star Wars

Tyler Durden – The Narrator in Fight Club

The Usual Suspects

Why Plot Twists Matter in Crime Fiction

Plot twists are an essential component of crime fiction storytelling.

Suspense is one of the most important elements of any good crime fiction novel. Suspense keeps readers turning the page, anxious to discover what happens next. A plot twist is the perfect way to keep suspense levels high throughout your novel.

Plot Twists in Romance Writing

There are many different types of romantic plot twists, but some of the most common include:

42+ Short Story Ideas With a Twist

Everyone loves a good plot twist! The moment where everything changes unexpectedly in your story. But as writers, it’s not always easy coming up with remarkable plot twists that will amaze your readers. So to help you out, here are over 40 short story ideas with a twist that will shock your readers. You might also want to read our post on how to come up with good story ideas for further help and inspiration.

We also recommend viewing our weekly short story challenge . It’s free to enter, and can inspire you to write a great story.

Over 40 Short Story Ideas With a Twist

When you’re staring at a blank page or just need something to brighten up your current story or piece of flash fiction , just add in any of these fun and wacky plot twist ideas:

What do you think of these short story ideas with a twist? Are they twisty enough for you? Let us know in the comments below.

short story ideas with a twist

Marty the wizard is the master of Imagine Forest. When he's not reading a ton of books or writing some of his own tales, he loves to be surrounded by the magical creatures that live in Imagine Forest. While living in his tree house he has devoted his time to helping children around the world with their writing skills and creativity.

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10 Simple Tips For Writing Clever Plot Twists

Writing plot twists is much harder than it looks.

As readers, we’re used to devouring mind-blowing twists and turns, marvelling at the cleverness of the writers who devised them.

But as writers behind the scenes, it’s difficult to dream up new and innovative ways of subverting readers’ expectations.

If you want to write stories that surprise and intrigue your audience, we’ve got 10 simple tips to help you master the art of the plot twist.

10 Simple Tips For Writing Clever Plot Twists

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1. Approach your story as a reader

This may seem obvious, but it’s one of the most important steps you can take towards writing effective plot twists.

When you’re plotting and planning your novel , constantly put yourself in the reader’s shoes. Imagine how you might react to this particular story.

In which direction would you automatically expect the story to go? What potential twists and turns immediately come to mind?

Note all these down, and then discard every one of them as a potential plot twist.

If you think there’s even the slightest chance that a reader can foresee a plot twist, they probably can.

Most readers’ minds work in similar ways – especially genre readers, who are used to the conventions and standards of their genre. Any narrative turns you immediately think of will most likely be thought of by your readers, too.

To combat predictability in your plot, try thinking about the complete opposite of every twist or turn you’ve noted down above.

If your narrative naturally begins to lean towards a certain outcome or event, try steering it in the complete opposite direction and see what happens.

When you eventually think of something that takes even you by surprise, you’ll know you’re on the right track for a successful plot twist.

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2. Use subtle misdirection

You may have heard that misdirection is the magician’s greatest tool, but it’s also extremely handy for writers.

Guiding readers’ attention gently away from a potential plot direction will make it all the more surprising when you reveal the twist.

Your aim should be to make them think they know what’s going on, then subvert that notion entirely.

There are many tools you can use to achieve misdirection, including…

Note: You’ll notice that we used the word ‘subtle’ above – remember that. If you try too hard to steer readers in the wrong direction, they’ll notice.

And if they pick up on what you’re doing, they’ll either recognise the misdirection for what it is, or assume you’re trying to ‘hold their hand’ and guide them far too obviously towards a certain outcome.

You don’t want any of that to happen. Your readers want to feel respected by you as the writer, not babied or cheated.

The key is to guide your audience into believing something so easily and naturally, they’ll swear they thought of it themselves – and that’s when you can plant a plot twist and really shake things up!


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3. Use even subtler foreshadowing

Foreshadowing is a vital element that precedes any good plot twist. It involves planting extremely subtle clues that hint at the twist to come.

Again, when we say ‘subtle’ here, we  mean subtle. So subtle that these hints may not even be noticed by readers the first time around, but looking back, will make perfect sense.

You want readers to be slapping their foreheads, saying, ‘Of course! How could I not have seen this coming?’

We like what author  K.M. Weiland has to say about foreshadowing:

Foreshadowing’s great strength lies in its ability to create a cohesive and plausible story. If readers understand that it’s possible that someone in your story may be murdered, they won’t be completely shocked when the sidekick gets axed down the road. If, however, you failed to properly foreshadow this unhappy event, readers would be jarred … They would think you had, in essence, lied to them so you could trick them with this big shocker.”

There’s a fine line to tread when it comes to foreshadowing . You need to strike a balance between giving enough detail to make the twist believable and plausible, and keeping enough hidden so that the twist comes as a surprise.

Another thing to remember is that every hint you  do plant needs to actually come to fulfilment. Think of this classic advice from Anton Chekhov, known as ‘Chekhov’s Gun’…

If in the first act you have hung a pistol on the wall, then in the following one it should be fired. Otherwise don’t put it there.”

If you’re struggling to add subtle and effective foreshadowing as you write, try leaving it out of your first draft . Then come back to weave it in when you revise your manuscript .

This way you’ll have a clearer view of the big picture, and you can ensure any hints you drop are subtle and properly fulfilled.

Notebook and laptop

4. Let your characters create the plot twists

As with every aspect of writing, it’s possible to overthink things when it comes to plot twists. Sometimes, trying too hard to create clever twists can leave you frustrated and stuck, or make your writing feel inauthentic.

When this happens, try taking a step back. Stop trying to consciously create twists and turns, and allow the characters to guide the story instead.

One method you may want to try is freewriting . This involves letting go of your thoughts and inhibitions and simply letting the words flow forth freely.

With freewriting, you never stop to think too hard about what you’re writing; instead, you write continuously for a set period of time or number of pages, allowing whatever is in your mind to escape onto the page.

Try this exercise with your characters. Write a conversation or scenario as freely as you can and see where your characters take you.

Freewriting like this can help to take your story in directions you never expected. And if it’s unexpected for the writer, it will be even more of a surprise for the reader!


5. Ensure your twist is believable and necessary – and makes sense

While plot twists, by definition, are sudden, unexpected and even shocking changes of direction, they must still be realistic and sensible.

No matter how unpredictable it might be, a plot twist that’s outlandish or doesn’t make sense is not effective. Readers won’t be impressed – in fact, they’ll probably just roll their eyes, and may even stop reading in frustration.

Don’t resort to gimmicks, and never introduce a plot twist just for the sake of including one. It must always serve to further the story in some way – preferably a way that readers find believable, and a way that fits naturally within the narrative.

If a plot twist exists simply for the sake of being shocking or dramatic, readers will see right through it and may even feel cheated, which is the last thing you want.  Rachel Scheller of Writer’s Digest puts it best:

Readers want their emotional investment to pay off. The twist should never occur in a way that makes them feel tricked, deceived, or insulted. Great twists always deepen, never cheapen, readers’ investment in the story.”

Girl holding book

6. Disguise a plot twist… within a plot twist

This one sounds a little complicated, but bear with us.

This method involves delivering a plot twist, which readers will think is THE plot twist – and then following it up with an even  bigger twist.

Readers won’t expect another radical reveal so soon after the initial twist. They’ll probably still be reeling from the first turn of events, so will be doubly surprised when the plot changes direction yet again.

To make this method work, the first plot twist must be unexpected, but not  too big, shocking or dramatic. It should be just enough to surprise the reader before you really blow their mind with that second reveal.

As author Chuck Wendig puts it:

The initial problem … is something of a stalking horse – it’s a bit of magical misdirection that the protagonist and the readers fall for while the real problem waits in the shadows to be exposed.”


7. Create a subplot that means more than readers think

Readers are used to subplots in novels. They sit nicely alongside the main plot, providing interest, diversion, conflict and character development , among other things.

This makes them the perfect vessel for plot twists!

Cleverly composed subplots can lead towards twists that readers never see coming.

There are a number of ways you can create a plot twist within a subplot:

Writing in notebook

8. Adopt a ‘no-one is safe’ mentality

Here’s something to remember when writing fiction: things don’t always have to end well.

Not every story has to go the expected ‘happy ending’ route. Not every character has to survive and thrive. Your protagonist doesn’t always have to save the day and succeed in achieving their goals.

In fact, taking the opposite route can allow you to subvert readers’ expectations and create a more interesting, realistic and engaging story.

Perhaps the biggest proponent of this method is good old George R. R. Martin of  A Song of Ice and Fire / Game of Thrones fame.

Who could forget  that moment in the first book/season where ***SPOILER ALERT*** our main character and hero, Ned Stark, is suddenly relieved of his head?

This particular character death makes an extremely effective twist for a number of reasons.

First of all, readers aren’t expecting someone who is, for all intents and purposes, the story’s main character, to be killed off almost immediately!

It’s also a darkly realistic event; there are no miraculous get-out-of-jail-free cards to be had in Westeros, despite it being a fantasy world .

And finally – perhaps most importantly – this unexpected death sets in motion a chain of events that takes the story to a whole new level.

Now, we know GRRM is the master of the ‘no-one is safe’ mentality. But if you’re going to adopt this mindset yourself, you must tread cautiously and carefully.

The main thing to remember is not to go killing off characters every which way just for shock value.

Remember how we advised against resorting to gimmicky twists? Well, killing everybody just for dramatic effect falls firmly under the ‘gimmick’ category!

Readers will feel cheated if they feel you’re simply toying with their emotions. And besides – the shock (and enjoyment) factor definitely starts to wear off if every character suddenly starts dropping dead for no real reason.


9. Keep up the momentum after the big reveal

It’s not enough to create a great build-up to a fascinating plot twist. What comes  after the twist is just as important.

There’s no point putting all your effort into making a plot twist work, and then dropping the ball with the remaining narrative.

If anything, your plot twist should ramp  up the action/ tension /intrigue, not act as a high point followed by a lull.

One of the main points of a plot twist is that it entices your audience to keep reading, desperate to find out what happens next. Don’t disappoint them by letting the momentum slow down too much after the twist.

Of course, some plot twists may be revealed right at the end of a book, but even then, there is generally some follow-up.

Wherever your plot twists are located, they must be preceded and followed by narrative that’s consistently solid and engaging.

Handwritten notes

10. Test your twists on beta readers

Remember in our first tip how we asked you to step into the reader’s shoes? Well, now it’s time to test your plot twists on some  actual readers.

The best way to do this is by giving your novel to beta readers.

If you’re unfamiliar with the beta reader process, check out our Ultimate Guide detailing how to work with beta readers , but basically, this is kind of like screening a film for a test audience.

Your beta readers will provide feedback on your manuscript from a reader’s perspective. This feedback will be really handy when you’re trying to determine whether your plot twists are successful in surprising and intriguing your audience.

Make sure you ask your beta readers specifically whether the plot twists were effective, and if not, what didn’t work for them.

Ask whether they saw the twists coming, whether there was sufficient and effective foreshadowing, and whether the twists were plausible as well as surprising.

However, don’t mention any of this to your readers until  after  they’ve read the book. If you talk about it beforehand, they’ll probably be actively keeping an eye out for twists, which means they won’t be able to react to them the same way a ‘normal’ reader would.


Ready to make jaws drop? Time to start cooking up some mind-blowing plot twists! Just be sure to avoid creating plot holes  in the process…

Claire Bradshaw

Claire is a freelance editor and proofreader based in Newcastle, Australia. She works with indie and traditional authors to prepare their works for publication, primarily editing fantasy novels. In her spare time, you might find her reading, birdwatching or drinking endless cups of tea while writing things of her own. Click here to visit Claire's website.

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Here are one-hundred plot ideas for when your mind is feeling frazzled and the noggin empty. Some of the plot ideas here are completely out of this world while others are down to earth. From dystopia to romance, to the cliché and outlandish, this list is sure to kickstart your imagination!

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Fantasy plot ideas.

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Horror Story Plot Ideas

Clowns with red balloons and masked killers, don’t go into the haunted house! Here are some horror story plot ideas!

Horror plot ideas

~Idea to further this: You wake up, get out of bed, and look into the camera… and then you die. (You kill yourself, duplicate comes in, etc.), Then someone who looks like they could be an exact clone comes in and drags out the body, cleans up, and slips back into bed.

Plot Twist Ideas

There are some real turnarounds in this list of plot twist ideas!

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Writing Effective Plot Twists

Since Miguel is defying his family’s wishes by also wanting to become a musician, he needs the blessing of his relative in the spirit world in order to achieve his dream. When the plot twist in Coco hits, we realize that the musician (and blood relative) he has been seeking has actually been the raggedy, deadbeat companion he first met when he entered the underworld.  Not only that, but this deadbeat turns out to be the real musical genius in the family, murdered by the vain and insecure famous musician who wanted the world to think he wrote all of his own hit songs.  

When young Miguel, as a result, discovers that one does not have to forsake family for a life of creativity, screenwriters Adrian Molina and Matthew Aldrich have successfully used a plot twist in service to the overall themes of the story, as well as making the twist integral to the inner journey of the protagonist.

When devising plot twists for our screenplays, ones that tie into the character arc certainly constitute a kind of Holy Grail within this long-standing convention of screen storytelling.

Integral Plot Twists

Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo (screenplay by Alec Coppel and Samuel Taylor from the novel D’entre les morts by Pierre Boileau and Thomas Narcejac) contains one of the most hotly-contested spoilers in film history.

When James Stewart’s “Scotty” character meets a woman who looks uncannily like the lost love he has been mourning and proceeds to try to remold her into an image from his past, the script shows us the truth about the new woman (that she is, in fact, his old love, who did not die, but was part of a plot to murder someone else) almost immediately.

In a famous flashback sequence, the murder plot is revealed, and we know right away that Judy, the new woman, is also Madeleine, the woman Scotty believes is dead. A plot twist that some complain gives the game away too soon.

But the exact opposite is true. For what the second half of Vertigo is about is Scotty’s twisted obsession with turning a dead woman into an erotic fantasy figure. His descent into madness would not have nearly as much power if we did not already know that his journey is utterly ill-advised in such a concrete way.  

Screenwriters, then, need to ask themselves why a plot twist is important to their stories. Twists should be as integrated to the type of story a writer wants to tell as the decision to choose a linear or non-linear screenplay structure. Any use of a non-linear approach needs to be part of the original conception of the screenplay, and not imposed upon it in the editing bay to cover up for a weak linear story.

And so with plot twists. Whether tied in completely to the themes and character arcs or simply there to blow our minds (more on that momentarily), they should be decided upon first, then reverse-engineered by the screenwriter so that they flow organically into the planned story. Certainly, it could be argued that such twists as discussed above, that pay off so much on character development, are the ones to strive for, but there are lots of reasons we go to the movies, and sometimes we just want to be knocked back on our heels.

Gotcha Plot Twists

The Sixth Sense is the modern granddaddy of the ‘gotcha.’ Along with The Usual Suspects , and, to some extent Fight Club , it takes its audience on a more intellectual puzzle-like journey and drops a whammy that allows us to reappraise everything that came before, seeing it in a new light. In discussing M. Night Shyamalan’s exceedingly well-thought-out screenplay, it should be noted that it is certainly not divorced from the character and thematic elements heretofore mentioned.

Indeed, its notorious “I see dead people” reveal would mean very little without the emotional attachment we feel to the plight of poor, tortured little Cole and Doctor Crowe’s attempts to find him a safe place in the world. However, the main draw of the twist in scripts like The Sixth Sense   (and, again, The Usual Suspects and Fight Club ) is to ask their audience to trace their experiences of the stories back through to their origins, to connect-the-dots and let their jaws drop.

This is another perfectly valid reason to weave a plot twist into your story. But, like the authors of the above-named screenplays, you will need to be careful to invest the plot with compelling elements that stand on their own.

The sheer labyrinthine layers of betrayal that dot The Usual Suspects and the heady sociological critique that forms the foundation of Fight Club are the glue that holds not only the stories, but their audiences, together enough to go along for the ride toward the mind-bending twists.

The Question No One Was Asking

Plot twists can work especially well when the writer is able to misdirect the reader into asking the wrong questions by keeping the narrative focused on the protagonist’s external goal. In Coco , the question the audience is asking is whether or not Miguel will get his blessing from the man he thinks is his great-great grandfather.

No one is thinking about whether or not the object of Miguel’s quest could have murdered his real father. In Arrival , we want to know what language the aliens are speaking and what it has to teach us; we’re not thinking about the protagonist’s place in the space-time continuum. In The Sixth Sense , we want the tragic, lonely  Cole to be a normal child again; we are not thinking about how his mentor is simply another of his ghostly visions.

The Final Twist

Once a screenwriter knows why and where to properly place a plot twist into their screenplay, they will be able to carry their readers along on a journey of discovery, whether it be one that mirrors the pattern of growth and change in the protagonist, or one that wants to pull the rug out from under us and leave us flat on our butts, wondering what just happened.

As with any successful piece of scriptwriting, stories that deliver the punch of a great plot twist need to do so while paying attention to all of the other important aspects of effective screen storytelling. A story cannot exist merely to get us to a fresh and engaging twist. It must be fresh and engaging on its own terms first.


James Napoli

Contributing Writer

James Napoli has over 20 years' experience as a Hollywood story analyst. He teaches screenwriting, script analysis and movie history, and is the author of <a href="">The Official Dictionary of Sarcasm</a>. <br> <table> <tr> <td><a href=""><img src="" style="height:25px"></a> </td> <td><a href="">@JamesNapoli </a> </td> </tr> </table>

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Why is it bad to exclusively rely on plot twists to create tension?

Why is it bad to exclusively rely on plot twists to create tension? I was told that some novice writers often make that mistake, but I am not sure why it is considered a mistake. Why is that the case? What are other means to create tension other than plot twists in your story?

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2 Answers 2

The problem is that poorly done (and even many well done) twists come across as a lazy solution. The author works the characters into a bad spot, then - surprise! - saved by the twist. It also works the other way, with the characters accomplishing some goal then - surprise! - crushed by the twist and forced to start over again.

Another problem with twists is that once you've read them there's no tension anymore - hence the modern obsession with "spoilers." If all your story has going for it is that one moment of surprise, then any revelation about the story will ruin the twist and make the story boring. It also makes it unlikely that anyone will read your story again - it has nothing but a twist, and once you know it there's no point in re-reading it.

A good story lives on a lot of things:

That last point is something that many authors seem to not understand. It is not enough to tell stories about strange people and places. World building alone is a boring read.

A good story includes things that the author wants you to think about.

Those may be things the author wants you to agree with - say, a science fiction novel depicting a post apocalypse world caused by man-made pollution as an argument for better control of waste and pollution.

It may be an argument for (or against) the death penalty in a story about a murder trial.

It may be nothing more than a presentation of contentment in a slice of life story.

Whatever it is, it has to be more than "hey, look at this wild world and the strange people I made up." It has to be more than "I wrote a story for people to read because I want to be a famous author."

Any good story has points that it is trying to express. A good author puts them in on purpose and works them into the narrative. A lucky author weaves them in accidentally, then wonders why the story is so well liked. A bad author pumps out pointless stories and wonders why they are poorly received despite having all the supposed earmarks of a good story.

Forget all the places and events and magic (or technology) in your story, and ask yourself what your story is about. If you don't know then it is very unlikely that you will write a really good story.

All the events and people and places and things are a vehicle to carry some important thought from the author to the reader. Without that one thing, all the other elements (including twists) are just pointless anecdotes scarcely worth the paper (or electrons) they are written on.

Plot twists are almost always part of 'the outer journey.' The plot is the sequence of events, after all, which is external to character. For something like an RPG, the outer journey is pretty much the whole story, and so a sequence of twists in order to build tension might be all right.

But in novels, there are also characters with inner journeys. The characters change, they evolve, they grow, they move. This is a balancing source of tension.

Outer tension and inner tension work well together.

Additionally, you can create external tension through other mechanisms besides plot twists, and doing so will elevate your writing by making it more complex. A quick example of adding tension would be to use a 'ticking time bomb.' This is not a plot twist at all, but a deadline that must be met. The audience is aware that the clock is ticking down, and the audience grows more tense wondering if the hero will beat the clock.

Good luck with your writing.

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creative writing plot twists

Plot twist ideas: 7 examples and tips for twists

A good plot twist adds intrigue, suspense or surprise to a novel. Plot twists are particularly popular in suspense-heavy novels such as murder mysteries, because they prolong suspense-creating questions about cause and identity. Read 7 examples of effective plot twists and what they teach us:

Plot twist ideas - 7 examples | Now Novel

First, a brief plot twist definition

A plot twist is ‘an unexpected development in a book, film, television programme’ ( Oxford English Dictionary ).

Plot twists are particularly popular in short stories. In many stories they are the main event of the story arc. For example, in Roald Dahl’s classic short story ‘Lamb to the Slaughter’, Mary Maloney kills her husband with a frozen leg of lamb. The dark-humoured twist is that Mary serves detectives investigating her husband’s disappearance the evidence.

Authors like O. Henry and Edgar Allan Poe perfected the art of the ‘twist-in-the-tale’ story. In these stories, the plot twist (like in Dahl’s story) is the climax. Yet plot twists are also popular in longer narratives.

Here are seven plot twist tips and ideas:

1. Plumb your themes for relevant plot twist ideas

Often great plot twists illustrate or extend the themes of a story . In the Roald Dahl example above, the author shows a darker side (violence, deceit) to mundane suburbia. The dramatic irony and contrast of this is developed even further. The detectives sit down to a cosy home-cooked meal, unaware they’re about to eat the evidence.

A good example of a theme-developing plot twist comes from David Mitchell’s novel Cloud Atlas (2004). [NB: Spoiler alert.]

The first character we meet in the novel, Adam Ewing, describes a chronic ailment to a doctor aboard his ship. The doctor diagnoses a dangerous parasite and recommends a course of treatment. We only find out much later in the book that the doctor is actually poisoning Ewing deliberately, far from curing him. His motivation is theft of Ewing’s fortunes.

This plot twist reveals the true nature of a character’s actions and intentions. It’s thematically relevant because much of Mitchell’s novel explores how individuals and groups prey on each other. For example, one setting and segment of the novel explores a futuristic Korea and the plight of enslaved clones. Mitchell’s plot twist thus continues themes of power and predatory behaviour. It demonstrates that power in history (and contemporary life) has many layers and levels, truths and lies.

2. Don’t give your twist away too early

Note the word ‘unexpected’ in the definition of a twist. Too much obvious foreshadowing and a twist feels predictable. The following example of a less obvious plot twist has been left vague, to avoid spoilers for newcomers to the popular series:

In J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series, a central character’s pet turns out to have a surprising, disturbing double life. Rowling’s twist is effective because:

By centering a major plot twist on a very unlikely character, Rowling keeps us surprised. She avoids giving away plot twists early. [To make sure you’ve paced developments in your novel well, create a blueprint/outline . Having an overview of your story you can print out will help you stay focused on key plot points.]

Infographic - writing plot twists | Now Novel

3. Make setting an active part of plot twists

Setting in plot can prepare the way for surprising revelations. For example, in William Faulkner’s classic short story ‘A Rose for Emily’ , Emily Grierson is the iron-willed town recluse. From the start, the narrator makes Emily’s house mysterious:

‘It was a big, squarish frame house that had once been white, decorated with cupolas and spires and scrolled balconies in the heavily lightsome style of the seventies, set on what had once been our most select street. But garages and cotton gins had encroached and obliterated even the august names of that neighborhood; only Miss Emily’s house was left, lifting its stubborn and coquettish decay above the cotton wagons and the gasoline pumps – an eyesore among eyesores.’

Faulkner gives us a sense of this setting’s decaying isolation. He foreshadows (subtly) the surprising twist that lies inside the house. Only towards the end do we discover the decaying body of Homer Barron, a man who goes to live with Emily.

Faulkner uses the setting’s mystery to build suspense until we finally enter Grierson’s property and uncover the shocking twist.

Plot twists using setting may:

4. Use plot twists to increase antagonists’ power

If you’re writing a novel or story with a central villain or antagonist, a plot twist can give them surprising, additional power. We often find this device in fantasy writing (and it’s a staple of video game storytelling, too). Central characters confront a major opponent and just when they think victory is near, they hear these words: ‘This isn’t even my final form’.

Giving the ‘bad guy’ (or woman) power beyond expectations, in a surprising twist, serves multiple ends. For example, in the  Harry Potter series, the series’ main villain has taken extra (unexpected) precautions against a final defeat.

Because of this plot twist:

Plot twists that demonstrate antagonists’ power include:

5: Create plot twists to insert useful distractions

In mystery and suspense novels, a good plot twist leads characters off track. This is used quite literally in Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s short story  The Final Problem , for example. While out walking in the Swiss mountains, Detective Sherlock Holmes and his sidekick Dr. Watson receive word that a woman back at their hotel needs urgent medical care. Watson rushes back to the hotel, but the message turns out to be a false alarm. It’s a fake created by the novel’s villain, designed to separate the two and leave Holmes vulnerable and alone.

This plot revelation raises the suspense and tension. A distracting twist creates the necessary conditions for another, stake-raising plot event. It also adds credibility: Characters do make the wrong choice, sometimes.

Plot twist ideas - George R. R. Martin quote | Now Novel

6: Use plot twists to shift suspicion

In novels and stories where the main unknown is the identity of a perpetrator, plot twists help to shift suspicion. Deciphering who the guilty party is  in a murder mystery (or what their motivation is) forms a large part of the story’s pleasure.

Plot twists that shift suspicion onto other secondary or primary characters in your cast effectively complicate your narrative. You force your reader to let go of specific assumptions or guesses and press onward through adrenalin-pumping suspense.

The cult classic murder mystery series Twin peaks by David Lynch and Mark Frost contains many excellent examples of shifting suspicion. In the seemingly idyllic, picturesque small town, everyone seems implicated in the murder of student Laura Palmer. The town’s seedy real estate developer, for example, runs a secret brothel. Laura’s seemingly indifferent boyfriend is a drug peddler jealous of Laura’s flirtations with others. Multiple characters have motivations (from jealousy to murky underworld dealings implicating Laura).

Individual arcs and possible murder motives are revealed in twist after twist. This makes it difficult to lay suspicion at any single character’s feet. The town appears collectively responsible, as seedy double lives run rife in its hidden underbelly.

Plot twists that shift suspicion raise narrative tension. When multiple characters are suspects, each scene involving these characters becomes laden with potential for drama, conflict and revelation.

Suspicion-shifting plot twists don’t only work in murder and mystery novels. In fantasy, for example, a secondary character such as an advisor to a monarch might turn out, in a twist, to be a spy. The whole time they’ve been feeding information about the kingdom’s defenses to an unknown third party aligned to rival forces.

A plot twist like this creates useful narrative doubling. We see the monarch making decisions guided by the assumption their aide is trustworthy. The effect of this – the reader knowing more than a central character – is often harrowing, suspenseful.

7: Be careful with anticlimactic turns of plot

Plot twists don’t always increase  tension. Some plot twists reverse anticipation and suspense. For example, the climax of Kazuo Ishiguro’s novel The Unconsoled (1995). The story follows the build-up to a major concert performance in an Eastern European city by Ryder, the protagonist, a renowned musician. The twist is we never get to see the concert happen. It is constantly deferred in a dream-like narrative where Ryder struggles to keep forgotten appointments and promises.

The danger with this type of plot twist or surprise – where an expected plot point never arrives – is that the reader could be frustrated by the lack of payoff. Indeed, the novel split critics. James Woods said the novel ‘invented its own category of badness’, while a poll of other critics voted the novel the third ‘best British, Irish, or Commonwealth novel from 1980 to 2005’. The criticisms of the book involved more than the non-revealing twist at the end. Yet building up mystery and suspense without revelation and satisfaction is a tactic some readers – especially readers who expect conventional plot structures – may dislike.

Ultimately, successful plot twist ideas are often those that deepen the themes of a novel (like Mitchell’s example above) or defer major plot revelation, allowing readers to enjoy the guessing game longer.

Ready to brainstorm key details of your plot and create an outline you can embellish with twists and turns? Try Now Novel’s Idea Finder now .

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Jordan is a writer, editor, community manager and product developer. He received his BA Honours in English Literature and his undergraduate in English Literature and Music from the University of Cape Town.

3 replies on “Plot twist ideas: 7 examples and tips for twists”

What about a twist based on a misunderstanding or unknown fact to one of the characters? Is that a good way to have a plot twist take place?

Good question – that’s a common source of plot twists (for example the classic character twist where one character is misunderstood by another until a turning point, like the way Lizzie mistakenly thinks Fitzwilliam Darcy is a terrible person initially in Austen’s ‘Pride and Prejudice’).

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Journal Buddies Jill | January 14, 2023 October 10, 2018 | Creative Writing

30 Short Story Ideas with a Twist

See our 30 short story ideas with a twist— One of the joys of teaching middle school students is getting to see the way they straddle the line between childhood and adulthood. In many ways, their views of the world are often still so childlike. Yet…

Short Story Prompts with a Twist for Middle School Writers

Each day, they learn more and become more adept at critical thinking and making connections between people and events in their worlds. In short, middle schoolers are at a phase of growth where their minds are rapidly forming—and you have the power to influence and shape that development.

To promote this creativity and play to both their childlike and maturing sides, we’ve developed 30 short story ideas with a twist, especially for your middle school students.

Use these short story ideas with a twist to encourage your middle-schoolers and other age students to think outside the box… and to be as creative as they can as they craft a great story!

Prompts for Middle School Writers and Beyond!

These writing prompts include self-contained ideas that are perfectly suited to explore through a short story—but each one has a little twist that makes it somehow too mystical or too improbable to occur in the real world.

As your students write stories with premises like a Chinese restaurant with fortune cookies that always come true or a mirror that no one can see their reflection in…

They’ll need to make up their own world-building rules and to explore the commonalities of humanity that still ground us all, even when we are placed into extraordinary circumstances.

I hope you and your writes enjoy these creative writing prompts and find some great inspiration from them. Some of the ideas take a turn of events and have good plot twists, while others delve more into suspense, science fiction, or fantasy stories. Pick one or loads of them and happy story writing!

Short Story Prompts with Unexpected Twists for Middle School Kids

I hope you enjoyed this list of short story ideas with a twist. I mean who doesn’t love a great plot twist!

More Short Story Writing Resources

It’s no secret that good writing often begins with a great idea. From a powerful protagonist to an endearing hero and beyond, an engaging storyline may take some time to fully develop. But, the first step is an idea and then to write. So get to it and do just that!

Until next time, write on…

If you enjoyed these Short Story Ideas with a Twist, please share them on Facebook, Twitter, and/or Pinterest. I appreciate it!

Sincerely, Jill creator and curator

Use these short story ideas with a twist to encourage your middle-schoolers to think outside the box… and to be as creative as they can!

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Spring Writing Prompts

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plot twists readers won't see coming

How to Write Plot Twists: Your Complete Guide

Mastering how to write plot twists involves more than just throwing a monkey wrench into your story.

A well-written plot twist must be subtle.

You’ll need to learn:

If plot is the sequence of events that makes up your story — what happens to keep readers turning pages, p lot twists are unexpected, unpredictable, surprising, events or revelations that turn everything inside out.

Why does surprise matter?

Predictability bores. And it’s a sin to bore your reader.

A good plot twist strengthens your story and can make it unforgettable.

So it’s worth your time to learn to write good ones.

Once readers are confident about where your story’s going, upend their expectations with new developments.

While plot twists may most commonly be associated with endings, they can happen any time after you’ve established your readers’ expectations.

The most common plot twist pitfall is that they’re too obvious.

Avoid tropes — situations that have been so overused that your story becomes predictable and clichéd.

Also avoid dropping so many hints that the twist is easy to see coming.

If readers aren’t surprised, they’re bored.

So how do you know if your plot twist works?

Readers will tell you.

Well-written plot twists:

1. Are carefully foreshadowed.

Plant enough clues so readers will be surprised but not feel swindled. Give away too much and the reader guesses what’s coming. While your twist shouldn’t be obvious, readers should be able to recognize the signs when they look back. Think The Sixth Sense or The Sting movies.

2. Use subtle misdirection.

Be a little devious. Guide readers to suspect one resolution, and then reveal it as a dead end. But beware: A little goes a long way here. Be careful not to frustrate your audience.

3. Don’t rely on coincidence.

The twist must make sense or readers won’t buy it. Sure, coincidences happen in real life, but too many stretch credibility.

4. Are consistent with your story.

You can reveal new information, but it must be realistic and believable.

5. Maintain tension.

Don’t take your foot off the gas. Keep tension building and you’ll ratchet up the excitement.

6. Don’t overdo it.

Limit yourself to one plot twist per book. Any more will appear contrived.

Plot twists to surprise your readers

1. False protagonist

Readers assume an early character is your lead — but he soon dies, disappears, or is revealed as the antagonist. False protagonist twists can be tricky, but they can result in memorable stories.

Killing off a character makes readers fear that no one is safe.

Examples include Ned Stark in Game of Thrones , Marion Crane in Psycho, and Don Vito Corleone in The Godfather .

2. Betrayal and secrets

The main character has been misled, lied to, used, or double-crossed. A character appears to be an ally, but once their true nature is revealed, the main character no longer knows who to trust.

3. Poetic justice

One common example is a villain killed by his own gun.

Unfortunately, poetic justice has been used so much that it’s become a cliché. You risk alienating readers if you come across as too preachy.

The upside is that poetic justice can be emotionally satisfying to readers who love happy endings.

4. Flashbacks

The problem with these is that they take readers offstage to visit the past. Even if they reveal something important to the story, the danger is the cliché of a character daydreaming or actually dreaming and — after the flashback — being jarred back to the present by something or someone interrupting him.

Better to use backstory straightforwardly by simply using a time and location tag, flush left and in italics, and telling the story from the past as if it’s onstage now. In that way, backstory can propel your story.

5. Reverse chronology

Novels that start at the end and progress backwards use a series of backstories that result in a surprise.

The psychological thriller Memento features a main character who cannot retain new memories. The story starts at the end — with a shooting, and proceeds back as the protagonist pieces together his past. Such stories focus less on what happened than on why and how .

6. In medias res

Th is Latin term means “in the midst of things.” Don’t mistake this to mean your story must start with physical action. It certainly can, but in medias res specifically means that something must be happening.

Not setup, not scene setting, not description. It can be subtext, an undercurrent of foreboding, but something going on. The story essentially starts, giving the reader credit that he will catch on, with important information revealed later.

7. Red herring

This popular device, especially in mysteries and thrillers, seems to point to one conclusion — which turns out to be a dead end with a reasonable explanation.

Agatha Christie was a master at having several characters behave suspiciously, though in the end only one is guilty. Check out her And Then There Were None .

8. A good catastrophe

J.R.R. Tolkien used this in his novels. When everything is going terribly and the characters believe they’re doomed, suddenly there’s salvation. The key is that the protagonist must believe his end is coming.

An example: In The Lord of the Rings, Gollum takes the ring from Frodo, and we think all is lost. But then he dives into the volcano, saving everyone.

9. Unreliable narrator

In this twist, the point of view character either doesn’t know the whole story (due to youth or naïveté), has a distorted perception, or is blatantly lying.

Popular examples include Pi Patel in The Life of Pi, Mrs. De Winter in Rebecca, and Forrest in Forrest Gump .

10. A twist of fate

Random chance ushers in a sudden reversal of fortune, usually from good to bad. The main character either gains or loses wealth, status, loved ones, or long-held beliefs.

It’s crucial to make such a twist believable. (See #3 under How to Write Plot Twists That Work above.)

11. Realization

This turning point of deep recognition or discovery is my least favorite, to the point where I don’t recommend it. I prefer twists that come as a result of an external, physical act.

12. Deus ex machina

In ancient Greek and Roman stories, this plot twist was known as an act of God, literally meaning “god from the machine.” This refers to a crane-like device play producers used to fly an angel or other ethereal being into a scene to save the day.

These days, the term refers to an implausible and unexpected introduction of a brand new element that does the same. Frankly, it’s a huge mistake and is seen by agents, publishers, and readers as the easy way out.

Avoid this twist at all costs, unless you’re writing parody or satire.

plot twist tropes to avoid

Several have been done to death, so recycling them risks a boring, predictable plot. You should read dozens and dozens of books in your genre so you’ll recognize what works and what doesn’t.

Tropes are often the result of lazy writing.

Watch your favorite movies or stream the latest series, paying attention to plot twists.

Then use your new understanding to make your next novel the best it can be, keeping these tips in mind.

And once you have a promising idea, head over to my 12-step novel writing guide .

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creative writing plot twists

What You and I Can Learn From Patricia Raybon

How To Write A Compelling Plot Twist

Novel writing ,

How to write a compelling plot twist.

N J Simmonds

By N J Simmonds

We all know that a book with a great hook is something agents, editors, and readers are looking for. But when it comes to books that last, the ones that readers will be recommending for years to come, it’s those with the best plot twists that stand the test of time.

Yet plot twists are so hard to write. So how do you deliver thrilling twists and turns that will keep your readers guessing until the very end?

What Is A Plot Twist?

“I feel that the characters in my book, if they were real, would be like, “Seriously, another plot twist?” (Author, Meghan Blistinsky) A plot twist is a literary device found in all forms of storytelling, where the reader (or viewer) is lured into the intrigue of the plot and left reeling by a grand revelation or turn of events they didn’t see coming.

A plot twist can take place in any scenario, but there are three very important rules a writer must follow:

1. It must be plausible The reader needs to be surprised by the revelation, but not shocked. All readers love to guess what will happen next, but if the plot twist doesn’t make sense or hasn’t been primed in advance the readers will feel tricked or let down. 2. It must be a surprise It’s not much of a twist if the reader is able to guess the outcome from the very beginning. A successful plot twist, whether in a book or movie, will keep people guessing all the way through. 3. It must be foreshadowed We all love to think we can outsmart the writer and guess what will happen. But a great writer will make you think you’ve cracked it, and still surprise you with a revelation that makes total sense, but only in retrospect.

Why Is It Important To Have Plot Twists In Your Book?

It’s not. Plot twists aren’t vital in every book, but they are a great way to add intrigue, keep readers turning the pages, and get them invested in the plot. Not to mention add much-needed hype to your book.

And it doesn’t matter what genre you write in. A great plot twist transcends all types of books and stories. We often think of thriller plot twists when considering books with a grand reveal – you can’t have a successful murder mystery without a shocking revelation at the end – but every book can benefit from adding a plot twist (or two, or three, or four) to add tension, intrigue, and keep readers talking. A good plot twist can be used effectively in all genres, from fantasy and YA to rom coms and gothic horror. Even if no one has gone missing or been killed.

Plot Twist Examples From Books And Movies

“The best stories are the ones with the unexpected plot twists that no one would have guessed, even the writer.” ( Author, Shannon L. Alder)

There are too many amazing movie plot twist examples and great plot twists in books to list them all, so we’ve split them up into three types. Plus, we’ve kept the descriptions vague so as not to ruin their big ‘wow’ moments if you are unfamiliar with them.

Watching a movie, or reading a book, a second time can be extra enjoyable because that’s when we see how the writer planted the clues to the twists throughout the story from the beginning. See if you can think of your favourite plot twists and where they would fit in to these three categories.

Plot Twist # 1: The Grand Reveal

This is generally known as the ‘who dunnit?’ and is used in all crime, thriller, and murder mystery books and movies. Behind her Eyes by Sarah Pinborough A single mother falls in love with her boss and befriends his wife, but something is very wrong. Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn A reporter confronts the psychological demons from her past when she returns to her hometown to cover a violent murder.

Knives Out Who killed crime novelist Harlan Thrombey? A murder mystery with more twists than Chubby Checker. The Orient Express by Agatha Christie Just after midnight the Orient Express stops in its tracks. In the morning, an American is found stabbed to death. Who did it? Secret Window , Secret Garden by Stephen King People are being murdered. But who is the bad guy when you’re a writer living alone?

Plot Twist # 2: The Plot Thicken s

These types of plot twists are often used to change the direction of the story. Sometimes the twist is the inciting incident, sometimes the midway reveal, or it can pull the protagonist in a new direction and lurching into act 3. When it comes to a series, these types of revelations can also serve as great cliff hangers.

The Maze Runner by James Dashner Dozens of boys, and one girl, must escape a maze for freedom. Yet who is behind their imprisonment?

Fingersmith by Sarah Waters A novel set in Victorian England follows the intertwining lives of two women from different worlds.

Parasite A poor family scheme to become employed by a wealthy family and infiltrate their household by lying about who they are.

The Girl With All the Gifts by Mike Carey A teacher and a scientist living in a dystopian future embark on a journey of survival with an unusual young girl. I am Legend by Richard Matheson A post-apocalyptic vampire thriller, about a lone survivor struggling to live in a world that is no longer his own.

Plot Twist # 3: Wait! What?

Some of the best plot twists are those that you never asked for and come out of nowhere. By adding a huge twist at the end, one that (unlike a murder mystery) you were not waiting for, it changes the entire story from what you were led to believe to something else. Unlike a simple ‘who dunnit?’, these twists throw the biggest curve balls and leave you reeling as the credits roll or you close the book for the last time.

Sixth Sense A little boy can see ghosts and is helped by a psychologist…who may not be all he seems.

Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon A teen girl has an illness which means she can’t leave her bedroom. Then she falls in love.

Seven Someone is killing people based on the seven deadly sins. But what’s in that box at the end?

American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis We know he’s a cold-blooded killer. Or is he? We Were Liars by E. Lockhart A lonely teen girl recounts one beautiful summer, that may not have been so beautiful after all.

creative writing plot twists

How To Write Your Own Plot Twists

“Beneath every story, there is another story. There is a hand within the hand…… There is a blow behind the blow.” ( Author , Naomi Alderman )

You only have to read the latest Amazon reviews of a newly-hyped thriller to see how important plot twists are to readers. Many books are sold as having a ‘twist you never saw coming’ – which can backfire if readers are able to guess the grand reveal too early, leaving them feeling cheated. In other words, readers want you to surprise them with twists that they never saw coming yet were obvious in retrospect.

This is easier said than done. So how can you, as a writer, achieve that?

Here are five plot twist writing tips to keep your readers intrigued and guessing until the very end:

1. Let Your Characters Do The Hard Work

If you have created well-rounded characters with clear intentions and strong personalities, they will often reveal to you something you never initially planned.

Relax and leave your main characters to do the walking and talking. Perhaps put them in a strange scenario and see what happens. You may be surprised by where they take you.

2. Work Backwards

When it comes to the best thriller plot twists, authors often work backwards. They start with the big reveal, then go back and insert subtle clues and pointers alongside dead ends and red herrings. It’s important the clues are hidden amongst the more obvious clues that are placed on purpose to misdirect the reader.

For example: If you want the killer at the end of your novel to be the cleaner, you may have her polishing the gun in act one, and you may have her cleaning in a scene where another suspect is acting more obviously guilty. The best places to add plausible clues that lead to your twist is to hide them among action or dramatic narrative where the readers won’t be noticing them as much.

Let your readers think they’ve cracked it, then lead them down a dead end and make them circle back.

3. Mislead Your Readers On Purpose

This leads us on to misdirection, red herrings, and dead ends. The only way to keep your readers guessing is to play with them. Like any good magician, you make them look at your right hand while hiding the coin with your left.

This doesn’t mean simply pointing at the wrong culprit until the big reveal at the end, but entertaining your readers with plenty of action and intrigue until they are yanked out of their comfort zone with a big twist. For example, in Life of Pi by Yann Martel, we are so intrigued by the concept of a man having to survive on a life raft with a killer tiger, that it doesn’t occur to us that the story may be an allegory. And in Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk, we are so enthralled by the depiction of a seedy club full of men fighting one another, that we never once consider that perhaps our narrator is far from reliable.

4. Give Them A Mega Twist At The End Of The First Twist

There are no rules when it comes to how many plot twists you can have in one book (as long as you don’t make your readers dizzy with them). One fun device is to build up to an expected twist, then deliver a mega-deadly twist straight after.

One example of three twists in a row is in The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum. In the original novel, not only does Dorothy discover that the Great Oz is merely an inept man behind a curtain, but she learns that she could have gotten home simply by clicking her heels. And then, as if that’s not enough drama, once she’s back in Kansas we discover it was a dream all along. Or was it? These twists after twists are a fun way to add tension and speed up the pace during the last act, and to keep readers thinking of the story long after they close the book.

5. Play With Your Readers’ Emotions

Authors love to make you feel – whether that means making you laugh, cry, shocked, or even so angry you throw the book against the wall (then quickly pick it back up, because you simply have to know what happens next).

The best way to play with a reader’s emotions is to deliver a roller coaster of gut-wrenching twists. In Romeo and Juliet , we go from the throes of passion and teen love to Romeo’s best friend Mercutio being killed by Juliet’s cousin. A big dilemma we never saw coming. From love to despair, Romeo then delivers another twist when he kills Tybalt in revenge. We go from a cute YA love story to one of violence, tragedy, and drama when Romeo is banished.

If Romeo and Juliet were a teen novel today, most readers would expect that arc to lift by the end of the book, proving that love can overcome everything. Yet this is no love story, it’s a tragedy that purposely messes with your emotions. As a final, fatal, twist we see Romeo not only kill himself in the last act because he thinks Juliet is dead – but Juliet wakes up, sees that her lover is dead, and kills herself too!

This onslaught of dramatic twists leaves the spectators reeling with every imaginable emotion until at the end of the play they are left completely bereft. But in the very best way. Because, ultimately, a reader wants a writer to make them feel .

A Plot Twist With A Difference

As a final plot twist of our own, we’re adding a little bit more to this article and supplying you with some inspiration for your own memorable plot twist creations. Now we’ve had a look at what plot twists are, which ones work best, and how to write your own, here are some fun prompts to get you messing with your readers’ minds.

– The bad guy isn’t the bad guy after all? The MC is?

– The MC falls in love with the friend helping them get the girl?

– The imaginary world is the real world?

– The MC isn’t the narrator? It’s all been from someone else’s POV?

– The good guys were never there to help after all?

– The MC isn’t alone, as we have been led to believe?

– The narrator is unreliable?

– The MC has been lied to all along?

– They were pretending to be someone else?

– They are not dead?

– Or…are not alive? Plot twists, when executed well, are not only fun to experience as a reader, but are also a lot of fun to write. There’s no greater thrill than a reader exclaiming they never saw your twist coming. Next time you are reading a great book, or watching a movie, study where the writer or director is asking you to look and look in the opposite direction. Study the clues, guess the outcome, and try to get one over on the writer. You may even be inspired to write your own unforgettable plot twist.

Jericho Writers is a  global membership group for writers , providing everything you need to get published. Keep up with our news, membership offers, and updates by  signing up to our newsletter . For more writing articles, take a look at our  blog page .

About the author

Natali is an author and was previously our Head of Community & Editorial Commissions. As N J Simmonds she's written the RONA shortlisted fantasy series The Indigo Chronicles, Manga comics, and is one half of paranormal romance author duo Caedis Knight. Her stories are magical, historical and full of complex women, page-turning twists and plenty of romance. As well as writing, she lectures on storytelling, marketing, and self-branding . Originally from London, she now lives with her family in the Netherlands and Spain. For more about Natali, see her Twitter , or Amazon author page .

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The Secret To Writing A Great Plot Twist

In this post, we define a plot twist, include the secret to writing a great plot twist , and offer 13 types of plot twists for you to use in your books.

What Is A Plot Twist?

A plot twist is an unexpected story development in a work of fiction. It changes the direction or outcome of the plot from where the audience suspected it would go.

Something unexpected happens. A plot twist can be clever , revealing , or shocking . If you write well enough, it could be all three.

It is a popular literary device used in fiction. Plot twists are there to surprise an audience that feels comfortable. A plot twist is either completely unexpected, or it may have been foreshadowed. It may also be used in a sub-plot .

creative writing plot twists

A plot twist that occurs near the end of a story, is also known as a surprise ending.

The audience should never see a plot twist coming, and yet, it must still make sense. It must be plausible . A plot twist for the sake a plot twist is a bad idea and it will irritate your audience.

A powerful plot twist usually involves the protagonist or the antagonist in a story. This is because stories revolve around these two characters.

Examples Of Great Plot Twists


If you want to surprise or shock your reader, here are 13 popular plot twists you could use.

If you write a breath-taking plot twist , it can become a legend. Readers will remember it forever.

Plot Twist Exercises

Try using one of these to write a short story with a plot twist.

Top Tip : Find out more about our  workbooks  and  online courses  in our  shop .

creative writing plot twists

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Become a Writer Today

18 Plot Twist Ideas You’ll Never See Coming

Plot twist ideas can help you transform a story from boring to interesting. Discover some books worth exploring.

If you find yourself stuck in the world of writer’s block, one of the best ways to get out of it is to study some short story writing prompts. Many of these have plot twists in them. A good plot twist can get you out of a rut and make your work more interesting and engaging.

A plot twist is part of the story development that the reader does not expect. It is often shocking or transformative, changing the story’s path. For a plot twist to work, it can have some foreshadowing, but it must be unexpected and make sense at the end of the story, fitting the tale’s narrative. Find out more about what is a plot

Often, the right plot twist idea gives a story power. It can make a mundane story engaging and thrilling to the reader. The best mystery writers regularly employ this device. If you are looking for ways to add a twist to your work, here are some plot twists that have a great impact.

1. The Usual Suspects Are Wrong

2. a revealed family connection, 3. an unknown fear, 4. a blocked passage, 5. an unexpected death, 6. a big reveal, 7. an unexpected friendship, 8. the good guy is bad, 9. an unexpected gift, 10. a natural disaster, 11. it was me, 12. the hero makes it worse, 13. wait, there’s another big bad, 14. it was all a dream, 15. the villain didn’t die, 16. the setting is the problem, 17. a gasp-worthy surprise, 18. the unreliable narrator.

Plot Twist Ideas

One of the best plot twists that makes a great story is when you create a mystery, then set up the usual suspects. However, through a turn of events, the reader discovers that an unexpected person is the real culprit, and the usual suspects are all wrong.

Agatha Christie is famous for using this plot twist idea . After many clues that were often red herrings, she sent her detectives only to discover that the real murderer was someone genuinely unexpected at the end of the story.

One of the most famous lines in the Star Wars franchise comes from the villain Darth Vader. When the masked man says, “No, I am your father,” and reveals that Luke’s arch-enemy is actually his father, it changes the whole idea behind the rivalry.

You could add this story twist to your own storyline, as long as you keep the readers unaware of the connection. This plot twist works best when you don’t offer much foreshadowing of the person’s true identity until the big reveal.

Another good plot twist is to have your main character reveal some unknown fear previously unknown to the reader. When the fear gets exposed, it becomes clear how that fear drove the actions up until that point.

This plot twist works well if the fear comes at a pivotal point in the story. For example, the writer could set up a scenario where the main characters need to jump out of an airplane with parachutes on, only to find out that one main character suffers a debilitating fear of heights, making this action nearly impossible. Paula Hawkins successfully played on fear of the unknown in one of the best plot twist books of recent years: Girl on a Train .

If your characters are going on a journey, you could throw a plot twist at them that discusses some blocked passage. For instance, they could get to the endpoint of their journey, only to find the final cave they need to pass through has a giant boulder in front of it.

What makes this work is that the story writing builds up to a climax, only to find that there is something impossible that the characters must pass to get through that climax and finish the journey. For this story twist to work, it must be unexpected.

Plot Twist Ideas: An Unexpected Death

Having the main character meet a sudden demise with no foreshadowing can take the storyline of your book and send it in a completely different direction. In some genres, like science fiction, death can also become a resurrection which further changes the story.

To make this plot twist emotionally compelling, try to choose a character in which the reader gets emotionally invested. This will make the death more impactful and allow it to redirect the story’s path.

The movie The Sixth Sense uses a big reveal at the end of the story to create a severe plot twist. In this movie, the therapist works with a young boy who claims he can see dead people. As he helps the child work through this special gift he has, the movie slowly reveals clues about the true nature of the therapist.

It isn’t until the end of the movie that the film expressly says that the therapist himself is, in fact, a ghost. When people re-watch the movie, they can see the signs that were there the entire time, but the first viewing comes as a complete surprise for most people.

Taking enemies, then working on character development throughout the story, only to show that they need each other somehow, is a great plot twist. In the end, it can create meaningful connections between the characters and even turn a “bad guy” into a “good guy.”

The Toy Story movies are an excellent example of the enemies-to-friend trope. In the beginning, Woody, the sheriff, hates Buzz Lightyear, the space hero. Yet by the end of the first movie, they have become buddies, and in the sequels, they are best friends.

A twist on the unexpected friendship is the thought of taking your protagonist and revealing, slowly or at once, that he is, in fact, the bad guy. This is a great plot twist idea because the reader spends much of the story rooting for the protagonist, only to find that he was the antagonist the entire time.

This type of plot twist makes for a terrific story. It plays with the reader’s mind and emotions and provides many opportunities for red herrings. However, to make this story satisfying, you need to resolve something the reader can agree with, building some sympathy for the actual protagonist by the end so the reader is not angered.

An unexpected gift can be a significant plot twist in your story. It could be something the protagonist needed the whole time but didn’t know, or it could change the plot’s trajectory by adding new information.

One way to twist this even further is to make the gift seem like a good thing at first, only to turn it into a source of trials. The myth of Midas does this well. Midas’s magical touch seems impressive at first, but eventually, it causes him to lose everything, meaning it was the source of his tragedies.

Plot Twist Ideas: A Natural Disaster

A fire, flood, tornado, or another natural disaster can quickly change the trajectory of a story. To make this into a plot twist, you need to ensure it is unexpected. If there are a lot of spoilers that indicate the disaster is coming, the plot twist won’t work well.

Also, making a natural disaster into a compelling plot twist must significantly impact the storyline. The combination of impact and unexpectedness makes it work well.

The “it was me all along” plot twist happens when the main character realizes their worst enemy was themselves. This twist differs from turning the good guy into the bad guy because the protagonist remains the protagonist, but his main enemy is from within.

The Agatha Christie novel The Murder of Roger Ackroyd does this well. The narrator, Dr. James Sheppard, spends the book watching Hercule Poirot investigate the murder. In the end, he reveals that he is the murderer.

This plot twist takes a cut-and-dried tale and twists it to have a more engaging storyline. For example, the story could move toward a particular climax; everything seems as if it ends well, then suddenly, you realize the hero’s actions made the problem worse.

The story of Ender’s Game is an excellent example of this twist. When the main character successfully finishes his war simulations in his war training, he feels like he has done well. However, the writer reveals that the simulations were real battles against the aliens, and the main character committed genocide.

In many video games, the big bad boss is the climax of a level or game. When you beat him, you win. Many books and movies use this same idea, but they can throw a twist by revealing there is another “final boss” after what the reader thought was the main one is defeated.

In the Marvel movie Iron Man 3 , Tony Stark discovers the Mandarin he has been fighting was a hired bad guy that was nothing more than a decoy. The movie must continue as he fights Aldrich Killian to succeed.

Having a big reveal that shows that the entire story was nothing more than a dream can be an engaging plot twist. After some major disaster or other concern occurs, the reader suddenly discovers that it’s nothing more than a dream.

One of the most classic examples of this plot twist is the movie Inception . This movie leaves the watcher wondering if it was all a dream or not. The still-spinning top at the end hints that the main character could be stuck in an eternal dream and leaves the watcher wondering if the meaning is something else.

Nothing is quite as satisfying in a story as seeing an evil villain meet his demise, yet it is an exciting plot twist to discover the villain wasn’t quite as dead as you thought. This twist works exceptionally well if the villain was still doing his dastardly deeds, only without the hero’s knowledge since he thought he was dead.

In Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban , Harry discovers that Peter Pettigrew, who he thought was dead, was still alive and masquerading as Ron’s rat. This revelation turns the whole direction of the story.

In most stories, a character is the main antagonist creating drama for the main characters, but sometimes it’s the setting, not a feeling. This idea can be a plot twist when the people in the story suddenly realize they aren’t where they thought they were. When the reveal occurs, the main characters see that the setting is actually what they were fighting against.

Planet of the Apes is an excellent example of this trope. In the original movie, a team of astronauts thinks they crash-land on a planet with a society of intelligent, talking apes and dumb, non-speaking humans. Yet, the scene reveals they are actually on earth, just many years in the future at the movie’s end.

It can be quite the plot twist when the writer inserts something worthy of a giant gasp. It may be a dramatic event, a sudden violent act, or a surprising reveal, but the key is that it draws a startled reaction from the reader.

The Wizard of Oz does this well. As the entire book plays up the power and mystery of the wizard in the land of Oz, the reader expects it to be a powerful creature. Yet, in the end, the writer reveals the powerful wizard is nothing more than a middle-aged man.

The unreliable narrator is a final plot twist that can make for an exciting ending to a story. With this twist, the narrator seems to be telling an engaging, true story, only for the reader or watcher to discover at the end that the narrator was lying all along, often out of a desire to misrepresent what happened.

Life of Pi is an example of this. Pi Patel seems to be telling the story about survival on the open sea with his tiger as his companion. The reader eventually discovers the real reason behind the story may have been to discuss the plight of zoo animals, not to tell a survival story.

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57 Short Story Ideas With An Unexpected Twist

Who doesn’t love unexpected plot twists ?

Just when you think you know what’s coming…  


A devastating secret or unknown danger comes to light.

And everything changes.

The way forward is no longer clear.

The stakes have gone up.

Or maybe the twist comes when things look darkest.

Suddenly it seems possible (though not at all certain) that our hero might triumph. 

Creating good plot twists is an art form in itself.

So, how do you create your own?

What Makes a Good Twist for a Story?

How do you write a twist short story , funny short story ideas with a twist, scary short story ideas with a twist, hero short story ideas with a twist, short story ideas with a twist ending.

One of the best things about reading a well-crafted plot twist is being able to tell yourself, “Aha! I knew it wouldn’t be that easy….” or “Oh, wow! I knew something was coming, but not that !”  

It feels like you and the narrator have had a moment. And with the big reveal, they wink in your direction as if to say, “I know you felt a twist coming. Good instincts. High-five!”  

So, how do you create a plot twist with that kind of power? 

Effective twists have the following in common: 

Stage-setting can include foreshadowing, which leads to that “aha!” moment you want your reader to have. To them, it feels like a reward for noticing something that, when they read it, felt like a minor but vaguely important detail. 

On some level, they knew it meant something. 

As you read the short story twist examples in the list below, keep in mind these ideas are just the skeleton of the story. They tell you what happens. But only you can make it worth your reader’s time. 

57 Short Story Ideas with a Twist 

Some (even many) of the plot twist ideas in the list below will probably sound familiar because they use popular tropes. But like even the most well-loved tropes, they can only tell you what happens in the story. 

1. A teenager uses magic to help his crush win a competition when he suspects someone of sabotaging her. The suspect knows something he doesn’t.

2. You’ve won an award for your giant pumpkin, but then you learn the surprising secret behind its unusual growth. 

3. You wake up able to understand your cat and eventually realize you’ve been turned into one. 

4. One Christmas, you pretend Santa is real for your nephew, who believes. It turns out he’s right to believe.

5. You wake up to a completely different life and realize the life you knew was an illusion created by your parents. 

6. Your birthday wish comes true and wreaks havoc. And your nightmare becomes your only hope of survival.

7. You have a knack for magic tricks that backfire in spectacular fashion. Today’s birthday surprise is only slightly different.

8. The new student your hero befriends turns out to be their missing cat, which explains the attitude. 

9. You find a work-from-home roommate who’s tidy,  considerate, responsible, and a fantastic cook. Then the neighbors start disappearing. 

10. You invent a beverage that eliminates the need for sleep, with a side effect that seems manageable at first.  

11. You create a successful hybrid of two beloved houseplants, only to discover its blooms have a distinct and overpowering scent. 

12. The story begins with the protagonist asking someone, “What are you doing in my house?” It ends with the other character asking the same question.

13. The hero finally locates the perfect anniversary gift for their partner—one that reveals they knew about their partner’s murder attempt.

14. A blind teenager has a gift for drawing faces based on witness descriptions. Her latest drawing looks exactly like her mother.

15. You’re raised to believe an alien race is hunting you. Eventually, you learn they’re trying to rescue you—from your “family.”

16. You have no idea why you woke up in a forest until you become the center of a murder investigation. 

17. You befriend a killer’s last would-be victim, only to discover they’ve been the killer all along. And you’re the endgame.

18. The city’s new gardener has a secret, which she reveals when her finished garden opens to the public. 

19. The next-door neighbors moved in during the night, and they practically live in the backyard pool. Your mc discovers why.

20. Your new coworker is always bringing you fresh coffee. Then, one morning, you wake up married to them. 

21. A couple learns their adopted daughter has a twin with dangerous gifts. The twins eventually meet, and truths come out.  

22. A wolf shifter marks the home of his “future mate,” not realizing she has no idea she’s a wolf. 

23. An intergalactic explorer is rescued by aliens who warn them about Earth: a toxic wasteland with few humans left. 

24. Aliens find a spaceship with an abandoned child; little by little, they mine her memories to reveal a devastating truth.

25. The main character (mc) is convinced they’ve attained their success without anyone’s help, but a new friend slowly reveals the humbling truth. 

26. A dreaded break-up goes surprisingly well, and you pursue a sudden and irresistible opportunity, not knowing who’s behind it. 

27. The hero saves the life of their crush using magic without realizing they were noticed by someone who has a crush on them. 

28. The hero’s gift turns people into supersoldiers, giving Earth an advantage and turning people into the creatures they’re fighting. 

29. The hero wakes up in the care of a nation’s leader and becomes their closest ally until they learn the truth.

30. The hero takes pride in their skill at hunting demons until they learn the truth about their own parentage. 

31. The hero makes an example of a school bully—only to find out the real threat is the friend he was protecting.

32. The hero is a highly-skilled hacker whose skills avert a global crisis and whose reward looks a lot like punishment. 

33. The hero’s parents have kept a secret; to save his life, they’ll have to tell someone who wants him dead. 

34. The hero is a dragon shifter whose twin has an agenda: be fruitful and multiply, starting with the hero’s girlfriend. 

35. Your hero receives a magical book and discovers why they have a knack for it—and what it will cost.

36. You receive an heirloom that is supposed to reveal your sacred gift at midnight. You are your family’s doom.

37. A well-established hero is also a well-established villain, and no one is aware.

38. A family of heroes fosters a teenager, who happens to be a vigilante currently foiling all of their plans. 

39. The queen bee at your hero’s school just happens to be their mother, who became a vampire after a difficult childbirth. 

40. The hero is determined to win a chance at courting the princess. He knows something the other contestants do not.

41. The heroine is determined to run away when a new servant divulges a secret about her royal parents.  

42. Overnight, the richest kingdom on earth becomes a haven for every species but humans. Only the cats know why. 

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43. Your adoptive parents have always avoided talking about your birth mother. In the end, you find out why. 

44. A picture of your parents drives you to end a relationship, only to learn the real reason behind your reaction.

45. A successful author of paranormal erotica uses a pen name; a woman with that name claims the rights to her stories. 

46. Your “hero” is constantly cleaning up after an elusive bad guy, but a surprise clue points to the hero’s fianceé. 

47. Thanks to a rare (dissociative) personality disorder, your hero is constantly receiving anonymous gifts. They suspect an ex-girlfriend.

48. Only when the pregnant hero’s husband walks out of the delivery room does she learn a devastating secret.

49. Your hero-narrator’s chemically-induced dreams come true, which benefits everyone until someone changes the chemicals. It’s the hero.

50. You’re about to marry the world-famous inventor of AI companions when you learn why you’ve never seen them asleep. 

51. Your BFF’s secret novel project is a huge success, but they swear you to secrecy about it. You learn why.

52. A couple whose five-year-old son was kidnapped later adopts a teenager who believes he was “rescued” at age five. He’s not wrong.

53. One pandemic survivor becomes a surrogate mother for a ruling family—until they learn the virus was of alien origin.

54. When the mc’s best friend from childhood volunteers to donate a life-saving kidney, both learn they have the same father. 

55. A successful and single billionaire spends a fortune to keep a love-child secret, but the billionaire’s dying mother finds out.

56. The mc’s favorite teacher, who’s just been fired, turns out to be their birth mother.  

57. Your roommate writes bestselling novels every month. You coerce them into revealing their secret; it’s you who’ve written the stories.

Now that you’ve looked through all 57 plot twist ideas, which ones jumped out at you? Which one has you itching to jot down some ideas. And where will those lead you today?

A good story always comes with an unexpected storyline. In this post, get some inspiration for unexpected twists you can use in your next short story write-up.

The Art of Narrative

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How to Write a Plot Twist

Want to write a killer plot twist? Learn seven proven tips to help craft a winning plot twist for your story, screenplay, or novel.

“The best stories are the ones with the unexpected plot twists that no one would have guessed, even the writer” 

-Shannon L. Alder 

Let’s talk about how to write a great plot twist. Any story worth a damn will have at least one or two beats that surprise the hell out of the reader. And, if you’re writing a story you’re going to want to write a few surprising twists for your readers to enjoy.

This post contains affiliate links to products. We may receive a commission for purchases made through these links . And, we’re talking about plot twists so expect spoilers.

But first, let’s answer the obvious question. 

What is a plot twist? 

Mysteries and thrillers are riddled with twists. Each act of these stories will end with an event the reader didn’t see coming. These twists propel the story forward as characters deal with a sudden and drastic reversal of fate. 

A good twist can introduce new conflicts , or change the meaning of prior events. They can also reveal hidden character motivations, choices, or actions. 

Let’s say a stranger goes out of their way to return your lost wallet or purse. You left it on the bus and you thought you’d never see it again. This good samaritan got the address from your license and delivered your lost property personally. At the time you’d think pretty highly of this person. 

But, let’s say a week later you get a call from the police. Turns out your good samaritan didn’t find your property they stole it. What’s more, they have been stalking you for months and wanted to find out where you live. 

This new information recontextualizes what was once a positive event. Now that you know the stranger’s true motives you’re not going to like them, at all. You’re thoughts and feelings transform 180-degrees. This is how a twist in fiction works. 

Plot twists should surprise a reader without confusing them. Foreshadowing your twist is key. 

Let’s go back to that samaritan turned stalker from my previous example. Pretend you were writing that event as a twist in your story. I guess you’re writing a Lifetime movie or something.

You’d want to clue the reader that the stranger is up to no good. Have the stranger stare a little too long your character on the bus. Or, maybe they’re a little too eager when they drop off the stolen items. Give us something that will make us doubt this character’s intentions

What a Plot Twist isn’t

Lying to the reader is not a plot twist. Don’t withhold all the information that would hint at your twist. This will only make it seem cheap and dishonest when the twist finally happens. You cannot insert a surprising twist without any setup.

They need to be able to look back at your text and see all the various clues you’ve dropped to hint at your twist. 

Tips on creating a great plot twist

Create a cause for your twist.

A plot twist, like any other event in a story, should have identifiable causes. A series of events that create the twist or set it into motion. 

This is true even if the twist seems like a random act of nature or chaos. I once read a book where a major twist came in the middle act. The protagonist’s father died in a car accident. 

While this was a shocking event it didn’t come out of leftfield. The reason the accident wasn’t a total surprise was because of the way the author characterized the father. 

The protagonist’s father was a recovering alcoholic, but he had replaced the bottle with pills. He was emotionally unstable and throughout the book, his mood would swing wildly. And finally, he was a gambler and was in debt to some pretty nasty people. 

When his death happened it was shocking, but thanks to the author’s work it was also plausible. As a reader, you had a gut feeling that this guy was ill-fated well before his car accident. 

Regardless of what your twist is, the reader needs to be able to identify the cause. So if your twist is that a boiler will explode in the third act then show us a mechanic sabotaging it in the second act. Subtlety is important, though. Don’t let your readers guess the twist early by making your clues too obvious. 

In fiction, everything happens for a reason. Make sure your readers can find the reason behind your twist. 

Use a hidden character choice to set up your twist 

Your characters’ choices drive the plot. Therefore, a character’s choice or action should be what creates a plot twist. When it comes to a twist, you’ll want to hide or bury the character action that sets up the twist. 

Here’s an example- a small twist that comes from the climax of the 2003 film Oldboy . By the way, I won’t reveal it here, but this movie has the mother of all twists. Well worth the watch!

The film centers around a businessman named Dae-Su who is kidnapped in the opening scene of the film. He’s held in a private prison by a wealthy man and spends decades confined before he is finally released.

Dae-Su tracks down his captor with the help of an alley named Mr. Park. In the film, Mr. Park is the owner of the private prison where Dae-Su was a prisoner. Through events in the plot, Dae-Su and Park form an uneasy alliance. 

Why? Because Dae-Su’s wealthy captor bought Mr. Park off. 

Mr. Park’s choice to double-cross Dae-Su happens off-screen but is in line with what we already know of him. Mr. Park is not trustworthy.

Similarly, your twist should come from the actions and choices of the characters. Those actions should be in line with your character’s personality and motivations. 

Plot twists are the culmination of a series of subtle hints dropped throughout the plot. I’m repeating myself, I know. But, foreshadowing is just that important. 

But, again you don’t want them to guess the twist before it comes. You want to be subtle and engage in a little subterfuge. Which bring brings me to my next point. 

Misdirect and Subvert Expectations

Just because you have to foreshadow your twist doesn’t mean you have to be completely fair with your reader. You can always throw them off the scent with a Red Herring. 

“What’s that?” you ask. 

A Red Herring, in fiction, is a false clue or misleading detail. It’s meant as a distraction from the real twist. It’s also an excellent way of keeping your readers on their toes. 

Take a recent example from 2016’s Captain America: Civil War . The plot revolves around the character Bucky Barnes. Bucky was Captain America’s friend but through brainwashing became an evil super-soldier. 

Flashbacks throughout the film hint that Bucky was only one of a dozen super-soldiers. These other super-soldiers are stronger and more aggressive than Bucky. And, the film’s antagonist, Zemo, is searching for these other super-soldiers.

Presumably, Zemo wants these super-soldiers under his command. But, the movie fools its audience. Because when Zemo finds these other soldiers he kills them. We discover that Zemo only used the threat of the super-soldiers to lure Bucky and Captain America into a trap. 

A Red Herring will point to a very obvious endpoint in your narrative. An endpoint that you, as the writer, never intend on getting to. This will keep your readers distracted from the real ending you have planned. 

Conceal your Clues 

You can mask your clue as a piece of throwaway dialogue. Maybe a character makes some point that is brushed off by the rest of the cast. But that piece of information turns out to be key to your story’s climax. 

Or bury your clue amid a tense action scene. Your reader will be so concerned for the safety of the protagonist they won’t pay attention to your hints. 

Here’s an example of both these techniques used in an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation . 

Quick recap- the Enterprise is trapped in a time-loop that always ends with the ship’s destruction. Data, an android character, is the only crewmember who retains some memory after the ship blows up. 

The climactic scene happens many times during the episode. A portal in space opens. A ship emerges and collides with the Enterprise. Both ships explode and the timeline resets to only a few hours before the accident. I won’t bother to explain the time travel aspect. 

Before the two ships collide Data suggests pushing the other ship away using a tractor beam. He does this over and over again and it never works. Commander Riker suggests an alternative, but Data ignores him. 

Guess what? Commander Riker’s alternative solution is the thing that finally saves the Enterprise. But, because of the tense action and the fact that other characters ignore Riker this clue is well hidden. 

If you’d like to check out the episode it’s called Cause and Effect and it features a cameo from Kelsy Grammer! 

Unreliable Narrators 

This is a narrator who is not completely honest with the reader. Narrators will have their own reasons for lying to their audience. It’s up to you, the author, to determine what those reasons are. Unreliable narrators are the perfect vehicle to set up a terrific plot twist. 

I know earlier I said that lying to conceal a plot twist was bad. What I meant was that you, the author, shouldn’t lie to the reader. But, a character or narrator can lie all they want. As long as your honest with the reader. Now, don’t flat out say the narrator is lying. You only need to hint that the narrator might not be so trustworthy. 

Or take The Sixth Sense . Again you’ve got an example of a protagonist lying to himself by not admitting that he has died. In lying to himself he also lies to the audience. This crucial lie sets up the film’s big reveal. 

Dual/ Hidden Motivations

While we’re on the topic of unreliable narratives, let’s talk about supporting characters who lie. All characters need motivation. One way to set up a plot twist is to conceal a character’s true motivation. 

These characters may seem to have a single motivation. It would seem their only concern is to help your protagonist reach their goal. But, in reality, they’re undermining your hero every step of the way. When you finally reveal this character’s true motive you’ll have an excellent plot twist.

Chuck from the first season of Better Call Saul is an outstanding example of one such character. Throughout the first season, the protagonist Jimmy seeks a career as a high-powered lawyer. He also takes care of his older brother Chuck, a former lawyer who suffered a mental breakdown. 

At the end of the season, we find that there’s more to Chuck then meets the eye. Yes, he’s homebound, but he’s not helpless. He wields much more power at the firm then we realized. Not only that, but Chuck has been working behind Jimmy’s back. Chuck, Jimmy’s own brother has been the true antagonist all along. 

Not only is this a great plot twist, but it recontextualizes the character of Chuck. He transforms from a kind of bumbling idiot to the story’s primary villain. A twist in its own right. 

Hidden character choices and motivations make for the most shocking plot twists. Especially when an audience has grown close to that character. 

Oh, and by the way, this can work in reverse. Take a character your audience is sure to hate and reveal them to have heroic motivations. J.K. Rowling did this expertly with her character Professor Snape in the final Harry Potter novel. 

So there are a few tips to get you started. But, you need some practical experience. Below I’ve listed several novels and films with major plot twists. Choose a handful to read or watch and ask yourself the following questions:

What is the major plot twist in this text? 

What events in the text lead to this plot twist? 

How does the author or filmmaker foreshadow the plot twist? 

What character choices create the plot twist? 

The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

Life of Pi by Yann Martel 

Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty 

Shutter Island by Dennis Lehane 

Doctor Sleep by Stephen King 

The Prestige 

The Usual Suspects 

Want some further reading on plot twists and all other things plot? Here are some amazing manuals plotting, fiction writing, and narrative building: 

Write your Novel from the Middle by James Scott Bell 

Story Genius by Lisa Cron 

Screenplay by Syd Field 

And finally, if you’re desperate… I present to you… 

The Plot Twist Generator from Masterpiece Generator

This is a fun little tool that can help you with coming up with a few details to build your plot twist around. Unfortunately, it won’t actually write the plot or the twist for you. 

Published by John

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7 comments on “How to Write a Plot Twist”

Great post, John. I love a good plot twist.

Really great topic. The best part about a plot twist is how, while you can only be shocked by it once, it makes you want to watch or read it over and over again to pick up on the clues that lead up to it or explore the larger points that the story is trying to make.

Great point, Laura! I love going back to stories with great plot twists just to find all the clues I missed. Thanks for the comment and share!

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    5 Tips for Writing a Killer Plot Twist: Types, Examples, and Techniques Written by MasterClass Last updated: Sep 29, 2021 • 9 min read Here's something you'll never hear a reader say: "That mystery went exactly as I predicted, and that made me happy." On the contrary, readers want big surprises as a reward for reading further.

  5. Plot Twists Ideas & Examples •

    Learning About Plot Twists is a Fun Way to Improve Writing Skills Writing an effective plot twist takes time and effort - these twists must be planned in advance so that they work well within the confines of the story while still giving the reader an unexpected event to process.

  6. 25 Plot Twist Ideas That'll Keep Your Readers Guessing

    Here are 25 plot twist ideas to get your creative juices flowing. The villain is revealed to be the protagonist's long-lost sibling. It turns out that the protagonist is a clone of the real protagonist, who died years ago. The love interest turns out to be married/engaged/ otherwise unavailable.

  7. 42+ Short Story Ideas With a Twist

    When you're staring at a blank page or just need something to brighten up your current story or piece of flash fiction, just add in any of these fun and wacky plot twist ideas: An evil warlock who sets out to destroy the world, but ends up saving it. A superhero who catches the bad guy, but actually helps the "real" bad guy get away or escape.

  8. 10 Simple Tips For Writing Clever Plot Twists

    One of the main points of a plot twist is that it entices your audience to keep reading, desperate to find out what happens next. Don't disappoint them by letting the momentum slow down too much after the twist. Of course, some plot twists may be revealed right at the end of a book, but even then, there is generally some follow-up.

  9. 100 Creative Plot Ideas Organized by Genre

    The bridge between the realm of the fae and mortal shrinks with each day while tensions run high. You are the first and last person to discover the fountain of youth. You have lived for (insert time) but have run into the option to finally be set to rest, but (blank) makes you question what you truly want.

  10. creative writing

    Plot twists are almost always part of 'the outer journey.' The plot is the sequence of events, after all, which is external to character. For something like an RPG, the outer journey is pretty much the whole story, and so a sequence of twists in order to build tension might be all right. But in novels, there are also characters with inner journeys.

  11. How to Write Story Plot: Tips, Tricks, and Margaret Atwood's Writing

    1. Beginning. The beginning of your novel has to accomplish a lot. It must introduce the hero, the villain, and the world of the story, as well as the story's dramatic question, and it must do this with enough energy to grab your reader's interest right away. A prologue can be useful for seizing the reader's attention.

  12. Writing Effective Plot Twists

    Twists should be as integrated to the type of story a writer wants to tell as the decision to choose a linear or non-linear screenplay structure. Any use of a non-linear approach needs to be part of the original conception of the screenplay, and not imposed upon it in the editing bay to cover up for a weak linear story. And so with plot twists.

  13. creative writing

    Plot twists are almost always part of 'the outer journey.' The plot is the sequence of events, after all, which is external to character. For something like an RPG, the outer journey is pretty much the whole story, and so a sequence of twists in order to build tension might be all right. But in novels, there are also characters with inner journeys.

  14. Plot Twist Ideas: 7 Examples and Tips for Twists

    Plot twists that shift suspicion raise narrative tension. When multiple characters are suspects, each scene involving these characters becomes laden with potential for drama, conflict and revelation. Suspicion-shifting plot twists don't only work in murder and mystery novels.

  15. 30 Short Story Ideas with a Twist •

    I hope you and your writes enjoy these creative writing prompts and find some great inspiration from them. Some of the ideas take a turn of events and have good plot twists, while others delve more into suspense, science fiction, or fantasy stories. Pick one or loads of them and happy story writing! 30 Short Story Ideas with a Twist

  16. How to Write Plot Twists: Your Complete Guide

    Well-written plot twists: 1. Are carefully foreshadowed. Plant enough clues so readers will be surprised but not feel swindled. Give away too much and the reader guesses what's coming. While your twist shouldn't be obvious, readers should be able to recognize the signs when they look back. Think The Sixth Sense or The Sting movies. 2.

  17. How To Write A Compelling Plot Twist

    A plot twist is a literary device found in all forms of storytelling, where the reader (or viewer) is lured into the intrigue of the plot and left reeling by a grand revelation or turn of events they didn't see coming. A plot twist can take place in any scenario, but there are three very important rules a writer must follow: 1. It must be plausible

  18. The Secret To Writing A Great Plot Twist

    A plot twist is an unexpected story development in a work of fiction. It changes the direction or outcome of the plot from where the audience suspected it would go. Something unexpected happens. A plot twist can be clever, revealing, or shocking. If you write well enough, it could be all three.

  19. 18 Plot Twist Ideas You'll Never See Coming

    One of the best plot twists that makes a great story is when you create a mystery, then set up the usual suspects. However, through a turn of events, the reader discovers that an unexpected person is the real culprit, and the usual suspects are all wrong. Agatha Christie is famous for using this plot twist idea.

  20. 57 Short Story Ideas With a Twist

    Funny Short Story Ideas with a Twist 1. A teenager uses magic to help his crush win a competition when he suspects someone of sabotaging her. The suspect knows something he doesn't. 2. You've won an award for your giant pumpkin, but then you learn the surprising secret behind its unusual growth. 3.

  21. Creative Writing Prompts: Plot Twist Ideas

    There are plenty of creative writing activities at the Parents' Hub, like this Postcard Setting activity or these Fantasy Story Dice. What is a plot twist? Want to add some excitement to your creative writing? Try including a plot twist; something that happens very unexpectedly in a story. This keeps the reader engaged and on the edge of ...

  22. How to Write a Plot Twist

    A plot twist is a sudden, drastic, and unexpected change in the direction of a story. The big ones usually pop up during the final act. But, smaller twists can happen in earlier points of a narrative. In fact, smaller twists should happen early. So, don't limit your twists to just the "big reveal" endings.