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.
- 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.
- After finally achieving their goal, the protagonist discovers it’s not what they wanted.
- Midway through the story, the POV character dies, and another character takes over the narrative.
- The antagonist is an alternate version of the protagonist from a parallel universe.
- It turns out that the story’s events have been taking place inside the protagonist’s dream/ hallucinations/ coma dream.
- After defeating the villain, the protagonists discover that there was an even bigger villain pulling the strings all along.
- The story is revealed to be a prequel/ sequel/ retelling of another story that the reader is familiar with.
- The magical object/ person everyone has been searching for is an ordinary object/ person with no special powers whatsoever.
- It turns out that none of the story’s events happened and was just a figment of the protagonist’s imagination.
- The supporting character who has been helping the protagonist all along turns out to be working for the enemy/ is secretly evil/ has ulterior motives of their own.
- Suddenly, previously unimportant side characters start playing major roles in advancing the plot towards its climax.
- Characters thought to be dead turn out to be very much alive and have been affecting events from behind the scenes this entire time.
- The Protagonist is the Antagonist: In this type of plot twist, the reader discovers that the character they’ve been rooting for throughout the story is the bad guy. This is a great way to keep your readers on their toes and leave them guessing until the very end.
- The Love Interest is Dead: This is a classic plot twist that has been used time and again in literature, film, and television. In this type of plot twist, the reader or viewer thinks that the protagonist will end up with one person, only to find out that person is dead. This can be a great way to create suspense and tension in your story.
- The Object of Desire is Evil: In this plot twist, the thing the protagonist has been chasing after turns out to be evil or harmful. This is a great way to create an element of surprise in your story and keep your readers guessing.
- The Villain is Revealed to be the Hero: In this type of plot twist, the reader discovers that the villain they’ve been rooting against throughout the story is the hero. This can be a great way to subvert expectations and turn your story on its head.
- The Hero Dies: This is a classic plot twist that often leaves readers feeling shocked and surprised. In this type of plot twist, the protagonist dies just before achieving their goals. This can be a great way to add an element of tragedy to your story and make your readers feel invested in the characters’ journey.
- The World Ends: In this type of plot twist, the world as we know it comes to an end. This can be a great way to create suspense and tension in your story and make your readers think about what could happen if things go wrong.
- The Protagonist Loses Their Memory: In this type of plot twist, the protagonist loses their memory and doesn’t remember who they are or what they’re doing. This can be a great way to create confusion and suspense in your story and leave your readers guessing until the end.
- The Love Interest Turns Out to Be Related to the Protagonist: In this type of plot twist, the reader discovers that the love interest is related to the protagonist in some way (e.g., they’re siblings, cousins, etc.). This can be a great way to create family drama or conflict in your story and make your readers think about what could happen if two related people fall in love.
- The Object of Desire Turned Out to Be Fake: In this type of plot twist, it turns out that the thing that everyone was chasing after was fake or not what it seemed. This can be a great way to reveal that something isn’t always as it seems and make your readers think about what could happen if people believe something that isn’t true.
- The Villain Gets Away With Their Crime: In this type of plot twist, even though it looks like justice will be served, the villain gets away with their crime in the end. This can be a great way to frustrate your readers and make them think about what could happen if villains are never brought to justice.
- All of These Things Happen, but It Was Just a Dream: In this type of plot twist, it turns out that everything that happened in the story was just a dream. This can be a great way to confuse and frustrate your readers and make them question what is real and what isn’t.
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
Examples of Great Plot Twists
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:
- Revealing that a character is not who they seem to be.
- Introducing a new character who changes everything.
- Killing off a main character.
- Revealing that the two characters are related.
- Having a character remember something important from their past.